This afternoon Tropical Storm Gamma formed in the northwest Caribbean. The 1:00AM EST advisory from NHC lists Gamma with sustained winds of 45 mph and a central pressure down slightly to 1005 mb. Gamma is moving to the northwest at around 5 mph.
Gamma has regained a lot of centralized convection and is becoming better organized. While some may disagree, it looks as if Gamma is continuing to develop a decent circulation. Earlier today the cold front draped across the Gulf was significantly impacting the storm. However, Gamma seems to have recovered and again established solid outflow to the north. Dissipation in the near future does not look likely.
Gamma is currently located in a fairly hostile environment, and the models do not have a very good handle on its track. It is expected to curve slowly towards the northeast and approach Florida as a tropical storm. Confidence in this forecast remains fairly low. On a personal level, my gut tells me that something funny is going to happen here. Things don't look right with the way the models are treating this system with typical winter patterns setting up over North America.
I suspect the models aren't going to handle the combination of a winter pattern and tropical system very well. Signs point to the development of a significant Nor'Easter next week, and this could seriously complicate the issue of Gamma. As has been previously established, the models do not do well when tropical and extratropical air masses interact. If Gamma were to get entangled with this system, perhaps along the front boundary over Florida, things could get interesting.
The GFDL is hinting towards some interaction between the pending Nor'Easter and Gamma, but the scenario does not look very believable. It simply forecast Gamma to get sucked into the frontal boundary and dissipate. I don't foresee that happening.
The Canadian model didn't even develop Gamma and seems already to be wrong. The GFS shows Gamma just hanging around the northwest Caribbean and dissipating, never interacting with any mid-latitude system. The NOGAPS (Navy) model is going something I just don't understand. NOGAPS suppresses Gamma, then develops a tropical storm into the Gulf, marches it up the East Coast, and bombs it out. The UKMET seems to split Gamma in half, march it up the coast, and bomb it out (but in a more believable fashion that the NOGAPS).
In summary, the GFDL solution of having Gamma get sucked into the cold front seems to be the most likely solution. However, I still don't like it.
There seems to be enough warm water around in the Caribbean to support further strengthening. While I do not expect to see a major hurricane, tropical systems seem to be able to form with cooler water when surrounded by cold air. This seemed to be the case earlier this year with Euro-cane Vince.
Below is a map of Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential in the area.
Be sure to check back with TheStormTrack.com for continuing updates.