As you probably gathered from my intermediate update later on the 8th, the tropical disturbance I had been talking about was named once an aircraft was able to find not only a closed circulation, but tropical-storm-force winds. Claudette's first advisory was at 21Z yesterday. Later that night, the IR satellite presentation was incredible, with symmetric outflow, cold CDO, and classic banding features. During the night however, the TUTT (Tropical Upper-Tropospheric Trough) to her west induced unfavorable shear across the system and the appearance became much more ragged and lopsided. Furthermore, the storm was due north of the Venezuelan highlands, a climatologically brutal location for tropical cyclones because of the accelerated trade winds there (increased shear). In the past few hours, centralized deep convection is making a comeback, but strong vertical shear is still quite evident. At 15Z, TS Claudette was located at 15.5N 77.6W and tracking W at 21kts. Intensity is 55kts and 1004mb (there was a short-lived peak of 1000mb at 03Z). Forward motion should continue to slow over the next few days and the track should take her over the Yucatan, then into the Gulf, with weak steering winds, warm SSTs, and an anticyclone aloft. This means that although she's struggling to stay intact now, the weekend could paint a very different picture. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, and a Hurricane Watch is in effect for the eastern Yucatan Peninsula, down to the Belize border.
Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.