10 July 2002

Forty days into the season, and there's finally SOMETHING to discuss!

Those who keep a close eye on the tropical Atlantic would notice that
there has been an area of disturbed weather in the northeast Gulf of
Mexico the past 2-3 days.  For those who don't, that's what I'm here for
I guess.  Well, beyond the persistent (though not very intense)
convection, today saw the birth of a weak Low pressure system embedded
within the cloudiness.

The elongated surface circulation is centered at roughly 27N 87.5W, as
indicated by a morning pass of QuikSCAT, an active microwave
scatterometer (a satellite capable of retrieving wind speed AND
direction).  The next overpass will be at 7:20pm EDT and we'll see if
the winds are stronger and perhaps more circular around the Low.

Vertical shear is presently at about 10kts and is expected to decrease,
allowing what convection there is to become better organized.  The sea
surface temperatures (SST) are plenty warm (approx 29C), as is normal
for the Gulf.  Given the anticipated favorable conditions in the near
future, it's possible that this disturbance will become Tropical
Depression 1.  If not, we'll continue the drought of tropical activity
this year has demonstrated.

Now, since the "storm" is so close to land, landfall becomes a
concern... should it intensify.  Some models weaken it completely, while
one (GFDL) makes it a rather ominous storm in the near future.  GFDL
forecasts it to reach 970mb (medium CAT2) by Friday afternoon as it
makes landfall near Apalachicola, FL, weaken as it travels northeast
over the Florida peninsula, Georgia, and the Carolinas, then
re-intensify to a CAT2 storm again over open waters.  An interesting
solution, considering how some other models completely downplay it.

Just FYI, the first name on this year's list is Arthur.

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

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