Beginning Tuesday late afternoon, deep convection began firing closer to the center of Chris, accompanied by much more impressive aircraft data (increasing flight-level winds, noticeable pressure falls). This continued throughout the night, and today TS Chris is sporting a classic CDO (Central Dense Overcast) with cloud tops around -75C, and evidence of northerly wind shear... decreasing with time. Chris is a small storm, and as such, will be easily influenced by shear, but conversely, will be quick to bounce back. SSTs under and ahead of the storm are a cozy 28C.
At 15Z today, TS Chris was located at 19.2N 63.4W, or just north of Anguilla in the northern Leeward Islands. It is heading WNW at 9kts, and the latest intensity is 55kts and 1001mb. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands... a Hurricane Watch is in effect for the western islands of the Bahamas. You can monitor the progress of the storm via radar in San Juan at http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=JUA&product=N0Z&overlay=11101111&loop=yes
Over the next few days, it is expected to gradually strengthen to a hurricane, and continue a WNW heading, bringing it over the Bahamas on Saturday morning, and passing very close to southern Florida on Monday morning. The forecast track optimizes its stay over warm water and away from mountainous islands, allowing for the most intensification.
In the longer range, the central Gulf coast should be watching Chris with great interest. Once the storm passes over or near southern Florida on Sunday, the storm will enter the Gulf of Mexico. As of now, it appears that LA and TX would be the higher risks.
Elsewhere, a potent tropical wave just exited the African coast today. It had its earliest origins in the Ethiopian Highlands about a week ago and is favored by computer models to develop and become quite strong. The next name on deck is Debby.
Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.