Florida and much of the Southeast U.S. is still under a “dome of protection” from the tropics…at least for now. A persistent trough (or dip) in the jet stream has been in place since Debby reached our shores in late June. While this feature will help to steer tropical moisture in our direction (and possibly some heavy rain through mid-week), it will also prevent any cyclones from forming or moving in. Forecast data suggests a subtle change in the pattern may occur by the end of next week (Aug 23-25), which would allow this trough to retreat some to the north. We are watching this closely.
Even though no tropical activity is forecast to impact the U.S., that’s not to say the tropics aren’t active. In fact, we are watching three areas of interest: the remnants of Tropical Storm Helene, Hurricane Gordon, and what could be our ninth named storm in the central Atlantic next week. Here’s a recap on all three:
Remnants of Helene: The center of Helene’s circulation is forecast to move slowly north and possibly northeast. Some forecast models even bring the lower pressure back out over the warm waters of the Northeast Gulf of Mexico. If this were to happen, we would need to watch for potential re-development. As of now, chances for this solution are quite low. Nonetheless, unsettled weather will likely continue in the western and northern Gulf, with periods of heavy rain, squalls, and choppy seas. Some of the moisture from Helene will be pulled all the way across the peninsula of Florida by mid-week.
Hurricane Gordon: Gordon flexed his muscles over the weekend, becoming the third hurricane of the season. Gordon’s days are numbered, though, as the storm reaches some much cooler waters in the Northeast Atlantic and moves closer to the west coast of Spain and Portugal by week’s end. A gradual weakening of Gordon is anticipated starting late Sunday.
Invest 97L: Satellite imagery and forecast model data suggest it may not be long before we have our ninth named storm of the season, which would be Isaac. Models project that once this feature moves over warmer water in the eastern Atlantic, rapid strengthening could take place and the soon-to-be-named Isaac could even become a hurricane by the middle of next week. Long-range global forecast models are somewhat split on where this potential storm would move once it crosses 60°W (or near the Leeward Islands). One thing is for sure – we will be watching this one closely.
Tropical updates are available on WRUF-TV (Cox Channel 6 or over the air 10.1) at 20 minutes past every hour. Urgent updates are sent out via twitter @gatorweather.