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Tropical Tracker: A little mischief in the Caribbean

A couple of disturbances could develop in this region through first half of October

Possible tropical development over the next five days
Possible tropical development over the next five days

ORLANDO, Fla. – Welcome to the Tropical Tracker. Every Thursday during hurricane season we take a deep dive into what’s going on the tropics.

Over the past week or so, the tropics have given everyone a much-needed break, but over the next two weeks, activity in the Atlantic basin is once again likely with two waves showing signs of organization.

Why so quiet?

The flurry of storms during the middle of September was due to the enhanced phase of the Madden-Julian Oscillation -- a cluster of thunderstorms that circles the globe -- moving through the Atlantic. Since this pulse is a convective system, there is also a suppressed phase which helps to limit thunderstorm development necessary for tropical systems.

The suppressed phase of the Madden-Julian Oscillation has been dominating the Atlantic and limiting storm development.
The suppressed phase of the Madden-Julian Oscillation has been dominating the Atlantic and limiting storm development.

We have been under the influence of this phase for the past week or so as the MJO moves out of the Atlantic Basin.

New places to watch in October

The Caribbean is a hot spot for development basically all season long, but it becomes especially in focus during the second half of the season. Storms can still roll off of Africa in October, but the Cabo Verde season slowly starts to wind down. Storms developing in this region have a higher chance to remain out at sea due to more cold fronts moving off of the East Coast and steering them away.

Typical tropical breeding and tracks for October
Typical tropical breeding and tracks for October

While those fronts can help steer storms coming in from the east away, they can also stir things up closer to home. Cold fronts start to become more numerous and begin to make their way down into the Gulf of Mexico during the fall season. Oftentimes, these fronts stall off of the East Coast of the U.S. and over the Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean. These fronts can become the focal point for tropical system initiation.

Next two weeks

The areas to watch over this timeframe will be right where we would expect them to be. The cold front that just supplied Central Florida with the coolest air of the season will have a role in the next system or two. The front will stall over the Southern Gulf of Mexico and help generate a broad area of low pressure. This area of low pressure can then spit out smaller disturbances that can eventually turn into tropical systems. A weak tropical wave will interact with this stalled front and aid in the development of what could be the next tropical system.

Tropical potential
Tropical potential

The threat to Florida with any system that develops over the next few days seems low, but tropical moisture could surge into Central Florida next week using the stalled front as a highway to supply that moisture to the Sunshine State.

A second tropical wave will enter the Caribbean and have a chance to develop late in the first week of October or early in the second week. A lot of uncertainty surrounds this entity but would bear watching if it does develop. There are no immediate threats to Florida at this time!

Hurricane development is very quiet through June and July and typically ramps up as August begins. The peak of hurricane season occurs September 10.
Hurricane development is very quiet through June and July and typically ramps up as August begins. The peak of hurricane season occurs September 10.

There is typically an uptick in tropical activity during this timeframe before the season gradually slows down. Hurricane season ends Nov. 30.


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