The 2016 Hurricane Season is past its peak but things will be heating up in the Atlantic in the next week or so. A tropical wave that emerged from the African coast a few days ago is now rapidly moving across the Atlantic toward the Leeward Islands. This tropical wave (likely to soon be designated Invest 97L) will continue to move westward over the next few days reaching the heart of the Caribbean by the first few days of October. Conditions will be favorable for organization of this wave and there are strong indications we could have a significant tropical system in the Caribbean to start October.
Several long range computer models (models that forecast out several days in advance) have been hinting at this scenario for several days, especially the U.S. GFS model. More recently, the Canadian and European models have jumped on board with this scenario. Keep in mind we are talking about 7-10 days in advance and may factors could change. One of the things we will be looking for through next week will be consistency in the computer model forecasts from day to day and paying close attention to trends in the models rather than one single run.
So what does this mean for us in SWFL? It means nothing at the moment. The storm still has to develop and we have plenty of time to watch it to see how it evolves. October can be a tricky month for us in South Florida when it comes to tropical systems as several have affected the area in the past, most recently Wilma in 2005. Any storm that can get into the Caribbean this time of year needs to be watched as usually by this time, the jet stream starts making routine dips southward as the season changes, allowing for more opportunties for it to grab a strong tropical system in the Gulf or Caribbean and pull it northward toward Florida.
The best thing to do in the coming days? Make sure you are prepared. We'll keep you updated on any changes in the forecast but make sure you have everything in order to make sure you and your family are safe in case we do have to deal with a later season tropical threat. There is no need to panic. We want to make sure that you are informed well in advance and if there is a legitimate threat then you'll be the first to know. We'll keep you advised!
Special shoutout to Levi Cowan at TropicalTidbits.com for the images
Chief Meteorologist Derek Beasley