21 October 2011

Disturbance festering in southwestern Caribbean

For nearly a week now, there has been an area of disturbed weather in the extreme southwestern Caribbean.  It's origins appear to be a combination of a  tail of a cold front and the ambient monsoon depression.  There is a 1010mb Low associated with the disturbance, and the low-level center is approximately 200 miles off the Nicaraguan coast.

The system is in a low-shear environment, and the shear is expected to remain below 20kts for at least the next several days.  The SST is and will be nearly 30C.  There is not yet a lot of model guidance for this, but the global models indicate that it will develop and VERY slowly crawl northward toward Cuba as it intensifies.  Certainly something to keep a very close eye on, since the western Caribbean during time of year has birthed some infamous Category 5 hurricanes: Hattie 1961, Mitch 1998, and Wilma 2005.  The plot below shows the tracks of 11 storms that formed in October in the western Caribbean and became major hurricanes.  Note the relatively tight track pattern... north toward Cuba and Florida (Hattie, Mitch, and Wilma are the 3 that first went west before recurving/dissipating).  If named, the next name on the list is Rina (replaces Rita from 2005).

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