As fight against oil spill continues, tropical wave forms in Caribbean
June 23, 2010
The first storm of the Atlantic hurricane season could enter the Gulf of Mexico as early as next week, according to some weather officials tracking the tropical wave.
Late Tuesday, the weather system in question was located over the central Caribbean Sea.
Sytske Kimball, a professor of meteorology at the University of South Alabama, said she’s been tracking the wave since it formed last week.
“It’s way, way too early to say if it’s even coming into the Gulf,” Kimball said Tuesday. “It might stay a tropical wave or tropical depression. It’s way too early to tell.”
Showers and thunderstorms associated with the wave were expected to spread across portions of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and eastern Cuba today, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there was a 20 percent chance of development into a tropical cyclone within 48 hours, the National Hurricane Center reported.
However, weather reports indicated Tuesday that environmental conditions are expected to become more conducive for slow development of the system in the next few days as it moves west-northwest at about 10 mph.
Earlier this month, Colorado State University professors Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray offered an update to their annual hurricane predictions to include information about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The professors wrote that they don’t expect the spill to have any noticeable impact on tropical cyclone intensity, frequency or how an individual storm behaves. “The strong winds of a tropical storm or hurricane should sufficiently mix the oil and water that there should be no noticeable alterations,” according to a June 2 report.
Any impact a hurricane could have on the Gulf oil spill, Klotzbach and Gray wrote, depends on the storm’s track.
“If the storm tracks to the west of the oil, there is the potential that the counter-clockwise circulation of the hurricane could drive some of the oil further toward the U.S. Gulf Coast,” they wrote. “A storm tracking to the east of the oil could push the oil further offshore. But, little is understood about the interaction of tropical cyclones and oil.”
If the tropical wave in the Caribbean strengthens in coming days, it will become known as Tropical Storm Alex. Showers and thunderstorms associated with the wave were expected to spread across portions of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and eastern Cuba today, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The Atlantic hurricane season extends from June 1 through Nov. 30. This season is expected to be more active than some first predicted, with as many as 21 named storms now forecast. AccuWeather.com Chief Hurricane Meteorologist Joe Bastardi this week upped his original forecast — 16 to 18 storms — to 18 to 21, with at least six hurricanes.
Hurricane forecasters from Colorado State University predict the chances that a hurricane will enter the Gulf of Mexico this year are 44 percent, higher than the historic average of 30 percent.