Late August through September typically coincides with the height of Atlantic hurricane season, but so far the basin has remained largely inactive.
If August ends on Wednesday without a single named storm forming, it will be the first empty August since 1997. As it stands, the Atlantic is only running at around 8 % of average in terms of ACE, or accumulated cyclonic energy – a measure of the total atmospheric energy released by tropical storms and hurricanes.
But hurricane season is about to try to catch up. In addition to the developing system east of the Lesser Antilles that is likely to become Danielle, there are three other Atlantic disturbances scattered around this bear sighting.
Disturbance most likely to become “Danielle”
As of 8 a.m. Monday, a jagged cluster of showers and thunderstorms was about a third of the way between the Lesser Antilles and the west coast of Africa.
Granted, the system wasn’t much to watch on the satellite, as robust thunderstorm activity isn’t too prevalent. The wave featured a broad whirlwind of circulation, however, and that is integral to the eventual organization. The extent to which thunderstorms bloom and fill in the diffuse low pressure region remains to be seen.
The American model (GFS) predicts that the system will eventually become a hurricane. Before it can do so, however, the low-pressure band must consolidate into a more symmetrical vortex, which will cause a low-pressure center to form and the winds to roll up later.
Where can the system go
It is likely that we will have a named storm in our hands by Friday. By then it will be full north of the Leeward Islands a few hundred miles, but should spare the archipelago. The system, which could be flirting with hurricane strength at this point, will likely be diverted further north early next week, at which time a close shave with Bermuda is possible.
However, there are caveats to this forecast. Until a circulation center actually forms, it’s not entirely clear which steering currents might ultimately capture the storm, making predicting exactly where it will go a challenge.
Some model runs over the weekend had suggested the storm could threaten the Bahamas and/or the US East Coast, and such scenarios cannot be ruled out. The latest model simulations generally suggest the storm will remain at sea, but that could still change.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic
There are three other systems to watch, the westernmost of which is the tropical surge which, according to the American model, would become a powerful storm in the Gulf of Mexico. This is very unlikely to happen, and the model recently overruled earlier predictions. Instead, an irregular mass of showers and thunderstorms nestled in a subtle area of low pressure east of the Yucatán Peninsula will drift northwest in the coming days. Then it will enter the Bay of Campeche.
There could be some development with him eventually, but he’ll likely run out of time in his limited window to build strength as he nears the coast of Tamaulipas, Mexico, or southern Texas around Labor Day. .
Otherwise there is a lone whirlpool about 500 miles east of Bermuda, but that is unlikely to do much. The only other system to watch is rolling off the coasts of Senegal and Gambia. It will move north of the Cape Verde Islands and may grow slowly as it heads out to sea.