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Talking the Tropics With Mike: Strong tropical wave over the far Eastern Atlantic

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Realize the forecast cone (”cone of uncertainty”) is the average forecast error over a given time - out to 5 days - & *does not* indicate the width of the storm &/or damage that might occur.

A strong tropical wave - ‘97-L’ - is over the far Eastern Atlantic. See the satellite imagery below which shows the wave battling dry air but doing “just fine” on the edge of the driest, dustiest air. The Saharan dust has been prolific across much of the Atlantic during June/July/early Aug. - not at all uncommon. The dust is usually co-located with dry mid & upper level air that can slow or inhibit tropical development. But I’ve often seen waves that can thrive on the edges of the dust plume or once the wave exits the dust plume. Remember the dust is a product of the dry air not vice-versa.

The orange, red & pink shows the dry air over much of the Atlantic Basin:

‘97-L’ looks like a classic African tropical wave that has pretty decent potential over the next week to 10 days. The Bermuda high (clockwise circulation) - while expansive - is not as strong as past weeks so movement won’t be particularly fast to the west. The GFS model is the most robust showing a strong system gradually gaining latitude (moving W/NW) eventually making it all the way across to the Atlantic in approximately 10-14 days. The European model on the other hand is generally weaker & therefore shows a more southern track that’s more directed by the low level trade winds (since the Euro shows a more shallow system). The UKMET is weaker, too - for now at least.

So what going to go down?? Well - I’ll go ahead & lean GFS for right now (not much skin in the game yet since the wave is so far over the open Atlantic & will not threaten any land areas through at least this week, if at all). The big reasons to lean GFS is the system is already impressive & the GFS appears to have initialized the best. Secondly: the GFS has performed well so far this season (coming off a good season last year).

In any case - this is a wave to watch obviously, but we also have plenty of time to assess the situation. Another strong wave will come off Africa within a week or so.

Spaghetti plots for ‘97-L’:

Averages based on climatology for the Atlantic Basin through Aug.:.

Wind shear:


Saharan dust spreads west each year from Africa by the prevailing winds (from east to west over the Atlantic). Dry air - yellow/orange/red/pink. Widespread dust is indicative of dry air that can impede the development of tropical cyclones. However, sometimes “wanna’ be” waves will just wait until they get to the other side of - or away from - the plume then try to develop if other conditions are favorable. In my personal opinion, way too much is made about the presence of Saharan dust & how it relates to tropical cyclones. In any case, we’ve had several large dust plumes spread west to the Caribbean & Gulf with the peak of Saharan dust typically in June & July.

2022 names..... “Danielle” is the next 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 in ’19 & Laura, Eta & Iota in ‘20 & Ida in ‘21]). In fact, this year’s list of names is rather infamous with “Charley”, “Frances”, “Jeanne” & “Ivan” retired from the ‘04 list (all hit Fl.) & “Matthew” was retired in 2016. The WMO decided - beginning last year - that the Greek alphabet will be no longer used & instead there will be a supplemental list of names if the first list is exhausted (has only happened three times - 2005, 2020 & 2021). The naming of tropical cyclones began on a consistent basis in 1953. More on the history of naming tropical cyclones * here *.

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 over the Gulf, Caribbean & deep tropical Atlantic:

Sea surface temp. anomalies:

SE U.S. surface map:

Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic:

Surface analysis of the Gulf:

Caribbean:

GFS wave forecast at 48 & 72 hours (2 & 3 days):

Atlantic Basin wave period forecast for 24, 48 & 72 hours respectively:

Updated Atlantic seasonal forecast from early Aug. - NOAA & CSU:

The East Pacific:

“Howard” is well southwest of the Baja of California. The tropical storm will move northwest then bend rather sharply westward midweek as the tropical cyclone weakens.

West Pacific:

Global tropical activity:


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