96L weakens; political storm at NHC
A tropical wave in the mid-Atlantic, near 10N 43W, has lost most of its heavy thunderstorm activity, but could still make a comeback and become a tropical depression by Friday. This system has been labeled "96L" by the NHC. The wave has a small closed circulation, as seen on both visible satellite loops and last night's 4:57pm EDT QuikSCAT pass. Winds from QuikSCAT were as high as 25 mph. This morning's QuikSCAT pass missed the storm. Wind shear is about 10 knots, and is forecast to fluctuate between 5 and 15 knots in the region over the next two days. By Friday, as the system approaches the Lesser Antilles Islands, the GFS model is predicting that wind shear will rise to 20-30 knots, which should tear the system apart. Dry air to the north is limiting the thunderstorm activity of 96L. The Saharan Air Layer (SAL) lies just 50 miles north of the storm's center of circulation, as seen in water vapor satellite loops. None of the reliable computer models develop the system into a tropical depression. Climatologically, formation of a tropical depression in this region of the Atlantic this time of year is quite rare, and I don't think 96L will develop.
In the Pacific, we broke a long spell of over a month without a tropical cyclone, with the formation of Tropical Storm 03W. The cyclone is expected to hit southern China as a weak tropical storm Friday.
Figure 1. Computer model forecast tracks for 96L.
Storm at NHC
Those of you who follow Margie Kieper's View From the Surface blog know that a major political battle is occurring at NHC. Last night, the Miami Herald broke the story that several senior Hurricane Specialists at NHC are now openly calling for NHC chief Bill Proenza's ouster. Margie and I have been quietly gathering information on this brewing story over the past few months, but have not posted anything due to the sensitive nature of the matter. Now that the story has been broken, we can tell you what we know. I will lay out the full details in my next blog, which I plan to post by 1pm EDT today.