Patty was downgraded to a Tropical Depression late Friday and completely dissipated early Saturday. However, it may be what’s farther out to sea that warrants greater attention in the tropics over the coming days. Even still, a direct impact from a tropical cyclone is NOT in the long-range forecast for Floridians. A persistent trough of low pressure on the East Coast of the U.S. has allowed a parade of cold fronts to progress well off-shore, steering every tropical cyclone back out to see since the beginning of September. Upper-level winds are also very strong in the western Atlantic, which continues to make it even more difficult for storms to form or strengthen.
Despite all of this, Tropical Storm Patty did form just east of the Bahamas on Thursday. The stronger winds aloft have taken a toll on the system and Patty will likely dissipate entirely as a tropical system over the weekend. The remnants of this area of lower pressure, however, will likely drift closer to southern Florida by Sunday. At the same time, a ridge of higher pressure will strengthen to our north, and difference in pressure between the two will result in a strong on-shore flow on Florida’s First Coast this weekend.
Patty will likely pail in comparison to what is forming in the Eastern Caribbean over the weekend. Tropical Storm Rafael formed late Friday evening near the WindWard Islands. Rafael is forecast to gradually strengthen over the coming days as the storm moves north-northwest toward the island of Puerto Rico. Satellite data on Saturday indicated Rafael was becoming better organized and would likely strengthen over the next 24 to 48 hours.
The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center takes Rafael on a more northward track into the central Atlantic, possibly becoming a hurricane on Monday. Even though considerable uncertainty does exist with the long-range forecast for Tropical Storm Rafael, there will likely be no direct impact from Rafael on the U.S. mainland.