Hurricane hunters investigating tropical system moving toward the Caribbean
Impacts somewhere along the Gulf Coast possible between the final days of September & first of October
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Fiona strengthened to a Category 4 storm in the early hours of Wednesday morning and continues to churn northward in the western Atlantic. While direct impacts to the US mainland are not expected, it will be a close pass for Bermuda Thursday before the hurricane eventually moves over far northeastern North America this weekend.
Development odds remain high for a disturbance that has been given the title “Invest 98L” near the Windward Islands. As of the evening update from the agency, that potential is up to a high 70% chance by Friday and a likely 90% chance by Monday.
Forecast models are in tight agreement that this system will likely become the season’s next defined tropical system ahead of the weekend, likely forming in the Eastern Caribbean. As this area of interest drifts northwest -- formed or not -- it will have the opportunity to interact with exceptionally warm water not only at the surface but below in the northern part of the basin. As water is churned and brought to the surface, the higher heat content could provide the chance for this storm to rapidly strengthen before reaching the Gulf of Mexico.
EYES ON THE GULF COAST
This system is far from organized (although it may become classified as our next tropical depression before the day is done), so it is still difficult to get a handle on exactly where it will go, especially in the later portions of its trek through the western Caribbean. As of right now, we are still on track with our arrival of a trough of low pressure and resultant cold front that will have Texas dry (and cooler!) with upper-level winds likely steering this system toward the Central or Eastern Gulf of Mexico.
However, should that dip in the jet steam move by too quickly, this tropical system may miss its ride and move into the Gulf of Mexico slower. This would allow for additional strengthening and possible impacts further west along the Gulf Coast closer to the start of October.
The next storm to be named this season would be Hermine.
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