As Hurricane Fiona plows north and Tropical Storm Gaston zips into the Atlantic, the system currently in the Caribbean is getting attention for long-term forecasts that could bring it close to Florida by next week.
The National Hurricane Center continues to issue warnings about the two mentioned storms, including a powerful Category 4 Hurricane Fiona that could pose a threat to Bermuda, but it also keeps at odds over three systems that could become the next tropical depression or storm.
At the top of the list is a tropical wave with rain and thunderstorms that has already brought heavy rain and gale-force winds to the Southern Windward Islands and soon Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, northwest Venezuela and northeastern Colombia.
“Upper level winds are currently impeding development, and the pre-system upper wind pattern is expected to become more favorable within a couple of days, and a tropical depression is likely to form at that time,” the US Navy said. Hurricane Specialist Dave Roberts.
The system is expected to move from west to northwest and be in the middle of the Caribbean this weekend. The NHC gives it a 70% chance of forming in the next two days, and 90% within the next five days.
Long-range forecasting modelsOften referred to as the Spaghetti Models, it has different itineraries to order, but many expect it to travel over Cuba and threaten Florida by next week.
“It could develop into a tropical depression or tropical storm in the next couple of days,” NHC acting director Jimmy Rohm said on Wednesday. “Now there is a lot of speculation about the potential effects of this system on the United States and it’s too early to get that far.”
He said the NHC is addressing its potential this weekend.
“Beyond that we can’t say much for sure because remember that the predictability of systems that haven’t formed yet, and that system that’s not yet formed, is very low, and until the system does form, until low-level trading is done we won’t be able to say much for sure. Uncertainty about the effects on the United States.
NHC is also tracking two other systems with less chance of formation.
Closer to Florida in the tropical mid-Atlantic but with fewer opportunities there is a wide area of low pressure hundreds of miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. It features unregulated rain and thunderstorms, but is in what the NHC says only marginal environmental conditions.
“Some slow evolution of this system is possible over the next several days as it slowly moves northwest or north over the tropical Atlantic,” Roberts said.
It gives the NHC a 20% chance of forming in the next two days and a 30% chance in the next five days.
Farther away but a tropical wave is likely to form off the west coast of Africa with showers and thunderstorms now over warm waters in the far eastern Atlantic.
“Environmental conditions are expected to be favorable for some development, and a tropical depression could form by the end of this week as the system slowly moves north, between West Africa and the Cabo Verde Islands,” said Roberts.
60% chances of formation in the next two to five days.
Whichever gets sustained winds of 39 mph or more will take the name Tropical Storm Hermine with the next names on the list of hurricanes being Ian and Julia.
However, the biggest Atlantic storm is Hurricane Fiona, which is now heading north and is expected to pass through Bermuda and target Canada.
As of 8 a.m., the NHC places its epicenter 455 miles southwest of Bermuda, currently under hurricane warning and where deteriorating weather is expected later today. It remains a major Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 mph and stronger storms moving north-northeast at 13 mph. Hurricane-force winds span 70 miles with tropical storm-force winds spanning 205 miles.
“North-northeast or northeast movement with an increase in forward velocity is expected today through Friday, followed by a somewhat slower northward movement beginning Friday or Saturday night,” NHC hurricane specialist Daniel Brown said. “On the forecast track, Fiona’s center will pass west of Bermuda tonight, approach Nova Scotia on Friday, and transit through Nova Scotia to the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Saturday.”
Although not a threat to Florida, the swells from Fiona spread to the west and could pose a threat to surfing and disrupt current conditions on the eastern coast of the United States including Florida and the Bahamas.
It is expected to pick up speed ahead and transition into a strong post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds as it moves over Nova Scotia this weekend.
In the far Atlantic Ocean is Tropical Storm Gaston, which has some of the Azores under a tropical storm warning.
As of 8 a.m., the NHC places Gaston Center approximately 340 miles west-northwest of Faial Island in the central Azores with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph moving east-northeast at 17 mph. Its tropical storm winds extend over 60 miles.
“A turn to the east is expected by tonight, and slower movement to the southeast or south is expected by early Saturday. On the forecast track, Gaston’s center will move near or over parts of the Azores on Friday,” said the chief specialist at Hurricanes at NHC John Kangelosi.
The system is expected to weaken over the next few days, then turn tracks south and then east backward as it transitions into a post-tropical cyclone.
Since September 1, the tropics have been playing catch-up with four named storms in three weeks after nearly two months of calm.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in early August updated its seasonal forecast that 2022 will remain above average with 14 to 21 named storms, although not a single storm formed in August.
The 2020 hurricane season hit a record with 30 named systems, while the 2021 season was the third most active with 21 named systems. The average year calls for 14 named storms.
Through Gaston, 2022 produced seven named systems.