10:15pm update:I think Chris is up to something. Call me crazy but Chris seems to be near hurricane strength and headed towards Puerto Rico right now. This may just be a wobble but it is clearly moving in that general direction over the last several radar frames. Also, the cluster of deep convection near Chris's center makes me wonder if he is about to form an eye. More to follow.
Tropical Storm Chris is continuing to get his act together. In fact, Chris has beat the odds and looks to now be positioned in an environment favorable for gradual strengthening. The latest aircraft recon reported a central pressure of 1001 mb and sustained winds of 65 mph. Florida, Cuba, and the Bahamas are now within the potential 5-day reach of Chris and planning for a potential hurricane strike should begin in those areas.
Convection has become centralized around the center of circulation and outflow looks healthy. There is some northerly shear affecting the storm, but not enough to significantly disrupt development. Right now there is nothing obvious that will hinder additional strengthening.
Radar echoes out of San Juan are showing clear banding signatures wrapping towards the center. These bands appear to be close to closing off some time in the next 36 hours, possibly soon. Once the bands do close off, an eye should quickly form. In a favorable environment will water this warm, Chris could strengthen very quickly once he forms a closed eye.
The intensity models generally forecast little to no strengthening of Chris. None bring Chris above a category one hurricane. Of course, none of the models have very well handled Chris so my confidence in their forecasts remains low. As previously mentioned, the circulation should drift slowly northeast toward Cuba, Florida, and the Bahamas.