11 AM WEDNESDAY UPDATE
- Gabrielle downgraded to a depression and very disorganized
- Heavy rain and flooding still a concern for Puerto Rico and nearby islands through Friday
- No immediate threat to Florida, likely to stay out to sea this weekend
Gabrielle was downgraded to Tropical Depression late Wednesday morning. Hurricane Hunters flew into the former storm early this morning and found winds less than tropical storm force and only a weak area of low pressure well-removed from any thunderstorm activity. Radar from San Juan, Puerto Rico also suggested the bands of heavy rain were weakening and moving further away from the storm’s center, likely being drawn into a nearby tropical wave north of the Lesser Antilles.
The declassification also came with a dramatic change in the forecast path from the National Hurricane Center, projecting dissipation over the island of Hispaniola by Friday. While it is possible the system may reorganize further to the northeast than where it originally formed, increasing amounts of wind shear would likely make it very difficult for a new tropical cyclone to develop in the coming days and there is only a low chance (per the NHC) of this happening by Saturday. Nonetheless, areas of heavy rain are expected to continue through Friday in Puerto Rico and nearby islands as Gabrielle and the tropical wave slowly pull away.
The forecast model paths for Gabrielle (or remnants thereof) suggest it will move east of the Bahamas over the weekend where it will likely turn more to the north or northeast. A trough of low pressure aloft is currently forecast by most models to deflect Gabrielle out to sea and miss the United States by more than a thousand miles early next week. However, a few of the more recent runs suggest the storm could slow down and possibly stall over the western Atlantic. And because of this, it is too early to give Floridians an “all clear” on Gabrielle. However, confidence is reasonably high that Gabrielle will not pose a threat to the United States or the state of Florida.