TROPICS UPDATE: Invest 97 moving quickly westward; could become Matthew soon

Posted at 7:24 PM, Sep 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-27 09:51:50-04

We are continuing to track a strong tropical wave that is now rapidly approaching the Windward Islands. The wave has shown more organization through the day and this trend is expected to continue through mid-late week. Hurricane Hunters will fly into the system on Tuesday afternoon to investigate it. 

All conditions appear to be in place for the system to organize with light wind shear, very moist air through the atmosphere and very warm water temperatures in the Caribbean. The only things that could slow development are its rapid movement, speed divergence (promotes sinking air) associated with an acceleration of the trade winds in the Caribbean south of Jamaica and Hispaniola and depending on how far south it tracks its potential interaction with the northern coast of South America. Aside from these 3 negatives everything appears to be a go for significant development.

The forecast models have been all over the place with a recent trend toward taking the storm west to just south of the Dominican Republic then turning the storm northwestward or due north across the island into the Bahamas east of Florida. The European, GFS, Canadian and UKMET models have all shown this trend, with varying distances east to west with the north turn. I am not willing to buy into this scenario just yet, as there will be several factors that haven't occurred yet that will determine where the system ultimately goes. Ultimately the pace at which the storm strengthens in the Caribbean, how strong it eventually gets and the steering flow over the eastern U.S. and the western Gulf will play MAJOR roles in its eventual path. None of these are certain just yet. Don't be surprised once the aforementioned areas of concern are ironed out that we see a trend farther west with the forecast model tracks. Remember a weaker storm isn't influenced by changes in the upper level steering flow as much as a stronger storm. Weaker translates to a farther west track. The slower it takes the system to intensify, the better chance it has to stay farther west.  

Right now there is still no need to be concerned as we are still over a week away from potential impacts, if any here in South Florida. This is one of those "be aware" and "keep an eye on it" scenarios. We will be monitoring all of the things mentioned above in the coming days to get a firm handle on what will happen. 

Chief Meteorologist Derek Beasley