Potential storm brewing

A low pressure system located about 1,300 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Monday morning has the potential to develop into a tropical storm or hurricane and track toward the Western Caribbean.

Known as Invest 94L, the weather system was showing signs of becoming better organised Monday. The National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a notice saying Invest had a high potential of developing into the third tropical cyclone of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season.

‘Environmental conditions appear favourable for further development and this system could become a tropical depression later today or tomorrow as it moves west/north-westward at 10 to 15 mph,’ he National Hurricane Center notice stated.

Most computer model guidance forecasts indicated the system would intensify and become Tropical Storm Cristobal as it approached the Lesser Antilles.

Models differed as to how much latitude the system would gain as it entered the Eastern Caribbean Sea. At least one of the major models, however, had the storm passing just south of Jamaica on a west/north-westward track. If this were to transpire, the storm could pose a threat to the Cayman Islands.

The new system comes at a time when tropical cyclone Bertha was bringing tropical storm winds and high surf to the island of Bermuda. Bertha formed as a tropical depression and quickly evolved into a tropical storm on 3 July, becoming the earliest so-called Cape Verde storm every to form in recorded history. Cyclones are called Cape Verde storms when they emerge of the western African coast south of the Cape Verde Islands. These types of storm systems are common during August and September, but are considered rare for July.

Bertha became a hurricane on 7 July and reached Category 3 status later that day, becoming the first Atlantic basin major hurricane in July since hurricanes Dennis and Emily in 2005.

Already 11 days old as of Monday, Bertha was forecast to remain at tropical storm strength at least through Saturday; however it was not expected to regain hurricane status.