The tropics are quite active with two tropical systems and a third may form later this week, but none pose an immediate threat to the United States. This is not uncommon for this time of year as the peak of hurricane season is about two and half weeks away. Late August through early October it is fairly normal to see several tropical systems ongoing at one time.
The first area of interest is Tropical Depression Fiona which has winds of only 35 mph. Fiona is located about 500 miles south-southeast of Bermuda at 25.5 north, 62.3 west. Fiona is moving to the west-northwest at 15 mph and this motion is expected to continue for the next few days.
Wind shear continues to keep Fiona from being able to strengthen and the shear is not expected to decrease. For this reason Fiona may degenerate into a remnant low pressure system over the next few days. Fiona is not expected to impact the United States at all.
The newest tropical system, Tropical Storm Gaston formed 10 p.m. Monday. Gaston is located at 12.6 north, 30.7 west; this is about 450 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. The storm has winds of 40 mph and is moving to the west-northwest at 18 mph.
Tropical Storm Gaston is expected to continue moving west to west-northwest for the next few days. But later this week high pressure over the Atlantic is expected to weaken and allow the system to turn more northward. As a result Gaston is not expected to threaten the United States at all. Although we will continue to monitor its progress to ensure it remains over open water.
The system of most interest is known as Invest 99-L and could become a tropical depression or storm later this week. The atmosphere around this system is not very conducive for development for the next few days, but conditions are expected to become more favorable for development later in the week or over the weekend.
The computer models continue to flip-flop on where this system will eventually go with possible tracks spread across a couple thousand miles through early next week. So it is important not to focus on one particular computer model forecast, because the individual models will change with each update. What is worth looking at is the spaghetti plots of all the models to see if there is a consensus for where the system will go.
As of now the consensus shows that Invest 99-L will continue moving west-northwest and likely approach the Lesser Antilles late Tuesday or early Wednesday. After that the bulk of the models turn the system northwestward and take it to near the Bahamas by the weekend. But the models are spread out with time with tracks staying well east of the United States to some showing a track into the Gulf of Mexico.
At this time there is no need to worry about Invest 99-L as it is still not an actual tropical system. And honestly there is still doubt on whether or not it will overcome the negative environment it is currently in to ever become a tropical system. However, if it survives the next few days it will bear watching as it could threaten the United States by next weekend.
Until this system actually forms it is useless to focus on each computer model forecast. Please use caution on social media and don’t share forecast data from unreliable sources. The only sources which should be trusted are your local media outlets, like us here at KPLC, as well as government sources. There are numerous “so-called forecasters” that have no training at all that share model forecast simply to gain attention and shares. These sites only cause panic and provide no real data to anyone. If you follow sites like this it would be best to unfollow them, or at the very last don’t share these sort of posts!
Count on us here at KPLC to keep you updated on the situation, but at this time there is no need to worry about any of these systems in the tropics. Obviously we have a long way to go before hurricane season ends, so make sure you have a plan in place in case something were to threaten our area. Again no threats for us to worry about in Southwest Louisiana at this time.
Chief Meteorologist Wade Hampton
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