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TD Five still not a storm

Tropical Depression Five is hanging tough and very slowly strengthening. The eastern Caribbean often kills off storms but so far TD 5 is alive. The updated forecast brings TD Five to hurricane strength somewhere around Jamaica. However, intensity forecasts are very sketchy. Below is the latest advisory track from the National Hurricane Center.

The current satellite picture shows a relatively healthy depression, but not one that is off to the races. Convection remains moderate and steady which is helping to continually strengthen the depression. However, light to moderate shear has displaced the convection to the east of the storm which is acting to strongly reduce any intensification. The center of circulation is currently located just below the western edge of the convection. However, this fix is very shady. A hurricane hunter will visit the system this afternoon and this could lead to a dramatic change in location fix and track forecast.

While the surface waters in the eastern Caribbean are very warm, those warm waters do not run deep. Strong oceanic mixing induced by the wind helps to cool the surface waters and limit the intensity of the cyclone. However, in the western Caribbean the warm waters become much deeper. Once the system reaches this area, it should be able to intensify very quickly. I suspect that NHC's official forecast is underestimating the likelihood for rapid intensification, so beware.

Posted by Bryan Woods | Permalink