The tropical Atlantic remained in slumber for most of August, but things are waking up as Tropical Storm Dorian continues to churn west.
As of Sunday morning, Dorian was about 515 miles east-southeast of Barbados, where a tropical storm watch is in effect. Dorian has been moving west at 13 mph while maintaining strength as a 40 mph tightly coiled storm.
Dorian is expected to move through the Windward Islands, including Barbados, as a strong tropical storm Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday, before potentially intensifying over the threshold to become a hurricane in the eastern Caribbean.
The National Hurricane Center expects Dorian to move into a harsher environment by Wednesday night and Thursday, as upper level winds crank up over the Caribbean. This could put a limit on Dorian’s intensification or weaken the storm as it nears Puerto Rico.
The storm threat to Puerto Rico is uncertain at this point, but this is not likely to be as formidable a storm as Hurricane Maria was when it devastated the island in 2017.
“It should be stressed that Dorian is likely to be a difficult cyclone to forecast due to the marginal environment it is embedded within and its small size,” the Hurricane Center wrote in a forecast discussion Sunday morning. The Hurricane Center noted the presence of dry air near the storm that could put a lid on its intensification.
Storm activity elsewhere
The tropics are busy, in stark contrast to where we were a week ago. In addition to Dorian, we’re watching “98L,” an area several hundred miles offshore from the Florida-Georgia border. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting an 80 percent chance that this weather system will intensify, possibly growing into a tropical storm or even a hurricane by the middle of the workweek, while remaining well offshore.
If this occurs, it will be assigned the name Erin.
Aside from some additional shower and thunderstorm activity Tuesday over the Outer Banks of the Carolinas, the only sign on shore of 98L’s existence will come in the form of high waves and rip currents for beaches from the Mid-Atlantic to New England.
In addition, there is a tropical low pressure area along the Texas coast, which is bringing heavy rain to parts of the Gulf Coast.