Tropical disturbance (92L) over the Eastern Caribbean, a few hundred miles south of Puerto Rico, is steadily organizing and appears likely to develop into a tropical depression by tonight or Sunday morning. Satellite loops show an impressive and expanding region of heavy thunderstorms, with good spiral banding and respectable upper-level outflow on all sides. Long range radar out of Puerto Rico shows that heavy rains are now affecting that island, but there is no rotation to the radar echoes evident. However, the rain bands are becoming more intense and more organized. San Juan, Puerto Rico reported a heavy rain squall at 8:44 am this morning, and radar estimates suggest two inches of rain fell in this squall just southeast of San Juan. Wind shear over 92L is low, 5 - 10 knots. The waters beneath are at near-record warmth, 30°C, and these warm waters extend to great depth. Water vapor satellite loops show a large area of dry air lies to the north and west of 92L, and this dry air could interfere with development at times over the next few days.
|Figure 1. Saturday morning 11th Sept. satellite image of 92L.|
The disturbance is moving west-northwest at 11 mph, and steering currents favor a continuation of this motion for the next three days. Model support for development is scattered. The GFS and NOGAPS models do not develop 92L. The GFDL and ECMWF models predict development, with a track taking 92L into Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Wednesday. The HWRF model has a more northwesterly track, taking 92L over the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba, but this model has been trending too far north in its tracks. I expect 92L will follow a path south of the islands, bringing it near or just south of Jamaica on Monday, then into the Yucatan Peninsula on Wednesday. On this track, the southern Dominican Republic can expect heavy rains of 3 - 6 inches tonight through Monday morning; southern Haiti can expect similar rains Sunday through Monday, and Jamaica and the Cayman Islands can expect heavier rains of 4 - 8 inches Monday and Tuesday. Eastern Cuba will probably escape 92L's heaviest rains in this scenario (Figure 2.)
Intensity forecast for 92L
I can't find any reason to doubt this will be a tropical storm by Sunday or Monday, and potentially a Category 1 or 2 hurricane by Wednesday, if 92L avoids passage over Hispaniola and Cuba. The SHIPS model predicts wind shear will remain low, 5 - 10 knots, through the period, and makes 92L a Category 1 hurricane by Monday night. Water temperatures are certainly warm enough to support development. The main detriment to intensification is likely to be dry air, and 92L could wrap in some of the dry air to its northwest at times, slowing down development. The first Air Force Hurricane Hunter mission into 92L is scheduled for Sunday afternoon, but there will be a research mission by the National Center for Atmospheric Research G-V jet today that will give us valuable information on 92L's large scale environment and potential for development.
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What to do
Please watch the weather forecast carefully for the next days. The hurricane season in Belize ends on the end of November. Keep an eye on the weather and your emergency hurricane planning including supplies ready.