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Lesser Antilles Raked by "Chantal"

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Updated: 7/09/2013 7:14 pm
Tropical Storm WARNING for Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Southern Bahamas.. Tropical Storm WATCH Central Bahamas...

Tropical storm "Chantal" is speeding west & is still disorganized.  But surface observations from the Central Lesser Antilles -- specifically Martinique did include a wind gust approaching 75 mph.  But surface observations + analysis from hurricane hunter aircraft show a small area of stronger winds to the east of the center with far lighter winds elsewhere, especially on the west & south side of the circulation.  The central pressure did drop a bit. Tropical climatology dictates that July tropical cyclones moving this fast (20+ mph) into the Eastern/Northeast Caribbean have a tendency to struggle to strengthen.  Dry mid & upper level air (see water vapor image below) & westerly shear is not helping matters. It would seem that the storm will continue to struggle before reaching Hispaniola at which point any land interaction would really give "Chantal" fits.  Therefore, the future forecast -- especially intensity -- is highly uncertain.  It's entirely possible -- as indicated by the European model -- that "Chantal" will not survive beyond the next few days.  But if the storm does survive to the weekend then all bets are off.  Environmental conditions will become more favorable -- though there will still be some shear -- & the warm gulf stream could also give "Chantal" a boost.  There will likely be a bend to the west toward Fl. -- or some part of the Southeast U.S. by late in the weekend.  This bend will be a result of 2 factors:
(1) a re-strengthening of the expansive high pressure area to the north....
(2) the upper low now near the Bahamas that will move west across Fl. by Thu. then into the Gulf.  This upper low might also help to "ventilate" Chantal which could aid intensity.

It's worth noting that forcast models as a whole -- at least those models that maintain "Chantal" -- are generally trending west.  See the "spaghetti plots" below (4th image).

At this early juncture
....effects on the First Coast -- IF the storm is east of Fl. this weekend + still a viable tropical cyclone -- would be an increase in rip currents at area beaches, rough seas & surf, gusty winds & some heavy rain.  The intensity of these effects would, of course, depend on the exact location & strength of "Chantal"....assuming its survival.

N.W.S. radar imagery from Puerto Rico:

Forecast model plots below courtesy S. Fl. Water Management District:

Another strong wave has come off the African coast is hot on the heels of "Chantal" following a similar path as "Chantal".  There is at least some chance for this wave to develop with time as it moves west then west/northwest & gains some latitude.

Meanwhile....the upper level low (TUTT) is very evident on satellite imagery near the Bahamas.  Thunderstorms heave increased but no tropical development is expected as this upper low moves west across S. Fl. through Wed.  This system will enhance showers & t'storms across Fl. -- including the First Coast.  An incoming upper level trough later this week will absorb the TUTT as the TUTT weakens & turns the system to the north then northeast.  This combination -- as mentioned above -- could have a steering influence on "Chantal" this weekend/early next week assuming "Chantal" survives that long.

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