Tropics get busy

The National Hurricane Center in Miami was monitoring four tropical weather systems Wednesday afternoon, including Tropical Storm Bertha, which was still spinning around in the Atlantic at near hurricane strength almost two weeks after it formed.

noaa clouds

This NOAA satellite image taken Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 1:45 PM EDT shows Tropical Storm Bertha over the Atlantic, along with showers and storms over Florida, the Northern Plains, and the Southeast.
Photo: AP

‘The tropics are very busy for the middle of July,’ the NHC stated in its Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlook yesterday afternoon.

Besides Bertha, the NHC discussed two systems in the Caribbean and one in Gulf of Mexico near the Florida panhandle.

Of most concern to residents of the Cayman Islands, however, was the system known as Invest 94L. After NHC downgraded the possibilities of further development of the system to medium – meaning a 20 per cent to 50 per chance – on Tuesday, it upgraded the possibility to high – meaning above a 50 per cent chance – on Wednesday morning as the system became better organised.

A US Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter was scheduled to investigate the system yesterday afternoon to determine if a tropical depression had formed.

As it was, Barbados reported heavy rains and winds out of the east at 38 mph – almost tropical storm strength – at Grantley Adams International Airport at 10am yesterday, even though the system’s centre was more than 200 miles east.

A weather bulletin issued by the Barbados Meteorological Services yesterday morning warned of heavy showers, gusty winds and rough seas, with swells of eight to 10 feet likely.

Invest 94L was projected by guidance models to enter the Caribbean Sea; however the models differed as to how much latitude the storm would gain. While most models showed a track far south of the Grand Cayman – similar to a path taken by Hurricane Felix last year – two major models had the storm passing very close to the Cayman Islands.

In addition to Invest 94L, the NHC was also monitoring a tropical wave over the south-western Caribbean Sea, about 300 miles east of Nicaragua yesterday.

‘This system has the potential for further development before moving into Central America late [Thursday],’ the NHC stated in the Tropical Weather Outlook. ‘Heavy rains and gusty winds are likely to move over portions of Nicaragua and Honduras… with flash flooding and mudslides possible, especially in higher terrain.’

Another low pressure system of disorganised thunderstorm activity over the Florida peninsula and Gulf of Mexico was not expected to develop because of its interaction with land.

‘This system is likely to produce locally heavy rains as it moves northward across the peninsula during the next day or so,’ the NHC stated.