CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Potential Tropical Cyclone Number Nine appears to be on the verge of becoming Tropical Storm Isaias as it moves across the Leeward Islands today.
Gusty winds and torrential rainfall are forecast for Puerto Rico and the US and British Virgin Islands today before the storm pushes across Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) Thursday.
At this writing, top winds are near 45 mph and the storm is moving quickly off toward the west at 23 mph.
It’s not the most healthy-looking storm at the moment, but there is potential for strengthening before the expected Thursday landfall. Satellite and surface data indicate that the system remains elongated from SW to NE, with almost all of the strong winds far north of the center position.
A huge ridge of high pressure to the north of the disturbance is forecast to remain strong for the next day or so, which will keep the system moving speedily in a general west-northwestward direction just south of Puerto Rico today.
The ridge is forecast to weaken after that time, which should cause the cyclone to slow down, and potentially gain more latitude over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. It should be emphasized that this forecast track is highly uncertain until a true center forms, which has not yet occurred.
The cyclone will probably take some time to recover after moving over the very high mountains of Hispaniola Thursday, and some of the model guidance after that time shows an increase in southwesterly shear over the Straits of Florida that could limit the potential of the cyclone. Simply put, there are a lot of hurdles in the system’s way, so only time will tell how strong the storm may get and where exactly it is headed beyond Thursday.
For now, models are pretty consistent with bringing it through the islands late this workweek and then on toward Florida over the weekend. For many of the reasons mentioned above, it remains to be seen – and would be very difficult to predict with any degree of certainty at this point – whether there would ever be any impact to the Carolinas. But if there was to be, there’s no reason to believe it would be before the early to middle part of next week.
We’ll be monitoring.
- Meteorologist Al Conklin