As expected, the tropical Atlantic is beginning to awaken after remaining mostly quiet the past few weeks. As of late, tropical waves have made attempts to develop only to be squashed by highly unfavorable conditions in the Atlantic in the form of high wind shear and very dry air from bursts of dust and low humidity air from the Saharan Air Layer originating from the Saharan Desert in Africa. But as has been the case since earlier this summer, the Sahel region of Africa has been lightning up with thunderstorm activity, and these easterly waves now have a better chance to develop. We are now entering a favorable phase of whats known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). This phenomenon, when in its favorable phase (now over the Atlantic), causes large-scale rising air leading to better conditions for showers and storms to develop and sustain themselves, which could become tropical cyclones. Also, the Saharan Air Layer, while still strong, is beginning to lift farther north, allowing these waves to have a chance to develop without interference from dry air intrusions.
We are watching two areas. The first is a tropical wave near the Lesser Antilles that has a 20% chance of development in 5 days as it tracks westward across the Caribbean. This wave will stay well south of SWFL affecting Mexico, parts of Central America eventually moving into the southern Gulf over the Bay of Campeche. the northern Mexico coastline and south Texas may have to deal with this wave at some point in the future.
The second area we are watching is a strong wave that has just emerged from the west African Coast within the past 24 hours. This wave has a moderate to high chance for development in the next 5 days into a depression or storm. The Canadian model, GFS (US model) and the ECMWF (European model) develop this system into a tropical storm and eventually a hurricane over the open Atlantic by next week. It is way to early to speculate whether this system will have any impact on the U.S. It is essentially a "warning shot" stating that we are entering the busiest part of the Atlantic Hurricane Season and you need to make sure you are prepared as we get deeper into the heart of the season. The peak of the season is around the second week of September and the season ends on November 30th. While there are no immediate concerns with this next system, we'll keep you updated if anything changes.