Talking the Tropics With Mike: Gamma strengthening while aiming at the Yucatan Peninsula

Strong wave over the Central/Eastern Caribbean

Talking the Tropics With Mike: Gamma strengthening while aiming at the Yucatan Peninsula

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Overall... the Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico continue to be areas to watch for at least the next couple weeks... along with nearby areas of the SW Atlantic. If traveling anytime soon to any areas susceptible to tropical systems, stay up to date on the latest, updated forecast......

Tropical depression #25 formed over the Western Caribbean Fri. morning & strengthened into tropical storm “Gamma” Fri. evening. It’s the fastest ever to the 24th tropical storm of the season beating the record of Oct. 27, 2005. Were it not for the imminent land interaction, Gamma would become a hurricane sooner rather than later & still might be able to accomplish such before a full landfall.

The combination of a tropical wave, lower pressures & an old front developed low pressure at the surface over the far Western Caribbean which was upgraded Fri. to t.d. #25 then tropical storm Gamma Fri. evening.. Some models (GFS & UKMET) show a more northward jog initially allowing for more intensification then a turn west. Others (Euro) take the system right over the Yucatan then move Gamma over the far SW Gulf or along the Mexican coast. At the moment, there is a lot of dry air & shear over the W/NW Gulf which could & should limit strength after the initial land interaction.

Virtually all the models are having a hard time with so much low pressure at the low latitudes vs. a lot of high pressure at high latitudes. And by that I mean you get models showing frequent low pressure areas that then fade or - in some model runs - suddenly strengthen. But then seemingly just “go away” in future forecast model runs. There has been some recent agreement/tendencies to develop the 2nd tropical wave moving across the Caribbean which then turns more northward into the Gulf of Mexico while Gamma “peels” away to the west/southwest over the Bay of Campeche. However - there again - is little model agreement nor is there much run to run continuity. But I believe this second system might be a trouble maker for the Gulf Coast in 7-10 days or so.

Such a pattern (dominant high pressure across northern latitudes) this time of year often does yield tropical trouble that begins in or near the Caribbean. Personally I would be surprised if there was not at least one Cat. 3+ hurricane that develops out of this pattern. I don’t type this to try to “cry wolf” - it’s my job to forecast. Hopefully whatever does develop does not end being a major landfalling storm. In any case... stay tuned!

Whatever development there might be does look to be a slow process which is not unusual for this time of year & in an area (Caribbean/Gulf/SW Atlantic) favored as we move into October & past the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.

There are multiple tropical waves (E. Caribbean, Central Atlantic, off the coast of Africa) lined up across the Atlantic (see satellite photos) right now. It appears the waves farther east will have a hard time making it all the way across the Atlantic.

Persistent, broad & strong high pressure at northern latitudes helping to induce low pressure at lower latitudes:

In the longer range.... vertical velocities do appear to become more favorable across the Atlantic Basin Oct. 10-20 - “ish”. “Velocity Potential Anomalies” show a good deal of sinking air (brown lines) right now but more favorable rising air (green lines) should push east from the Pacific in due time which does match a climatological 2nd peak of sorts (Oct. 15-20) for Atlantic tropical development. This doesn’t mean the U.S. is necessarily in trouble, it just means the Atlantic may become more active again & time will tell where & how storms move.

October tropical cyclone origin points are clustered over the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico & SW Atlantic:

Atlantic Basin wave forecast for 24, 48 & 72 hours respectively (major wave action at Fl./Ga. beaches through early next week due to persistent brisk onshore flow (high pressure to the north) combined with easterly swells from distant Teddy:

Saharan dust:

2020 names..... “Wilfred” was the last name on the Atlantic list (names are picked at random by the World Meteorological Organization... repeat every 6 years... historic storms are retired (Florence & Michael in ’18 & Dorian is certain to be retired from the ’19 list). Interesting side note: the last six of the names on the ’20 list had never been used. So it’s on to the Greek alphabet now. “Delta” is next... the first time the Greek alphabet has been used since 2005 (total of 27 named storms using 6 Greek letter names in ’05)

East Atlantic:

Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS). The red lines indicate strong shear:

Water vapor imagery (dark blue indicates dry air):

Deep oceanic heat content is impressive across the SW Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico & especially the Caribbean:

Sea surface temp. anomalies:

SE U.S. surface map:

Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic:

Surface analysis of the Gulf:


Global tropical activity:

Intense hurricane “Marie” will stay over the open waters of the E. Pacific: