Tropical Storm Gonzalo weakens while Tropical Depression 8 forms

For the latest information on storm activity in the Cayman Islands, as well as information on how to prepare for hurricane season, visit Storm Centre.

The Atlantic Hurricane basin is heating up. As of Thursday afternoon, there were two active systems affecting the Caribbean, while a potential third system has been spotted off the western coast of Africa.

Tropical Storm Gonzalo weakens while Tropical Depression 8 forms and a tropical disturbance is spotted of the Western African coast.

Tropical Storm Gonzalo at 4pm remained the strongest and most organised weather system in the Atlantic Basin. The National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Florida, recorded wind speeds of 60 miles per hour, an increase of 10mph compared to yesterday.  Gonzalo was located 800 miles southeast of the southern Windward Islands and was travelling at 13 miles per hour. NHC forecasters said they expect Gonzalo to make landfall by Saturday.

Hurricane or tropical storm warnings have been issued in Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The revised predictions come one day after the NHC released a forecast which predicted that Gonzalo would become the first category one hurricane of the Atlantic 2020 Hurricane season by 8am today (Thursday). However, as of 4pm, a NHC Hurricane Hunter aircraft registered that the storm was weakening and had wind speeds of 60 miles per hour, some 15 miles shy of a Category 1 hurricane.

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Gonzalo is continuing to follow a projected storm path, which will see it arrive southeast of Jamaica by Sunday morning.

Gonzalo’s path is similar to that of Hurricane Ivan of 2004, though the storms share few other similarities.

“Gonzalo has several things fighting against it,” said Cayman Islands National Weather Service Forecaster Gilbert Miller. “For starters, there is a lot of dust from the Saharan dust cloud in the upper atmosphere, which helps to suppress the development of storms.”

“There is also a lot of mid-level interference due to strong winds, which have reduced the sea surface temperatures and decreased the amount of moisture in the atmosphere,” he added.

Miller said Ivan faced none of those issues, and developed further east in the Atlanic Basin, which gave it more time to build up strength.

A tropical wave continues to interact with an upper level trough, causing thundershowers over the Cayman area.

Gonzalo poses no immediate threat to the Cayman Islands, parts of which have experienced thundershowers throughout today.

Those showers have been caused by an ongoing interaction between a tropical wave and an upper level trough that has lingered in the Cayman area for several days.

Along with thundershowers, the tropical wave is expected to generate winds between 5 and 10 knots, and seas with wave heights of one to three feet.

Forecaster Miller said the rainfall is producing excess moisture which is being drawn in by Tropical Depression 8, another system which poses no immediate threat to the Cayman Islands.

Tropical Depression 8, the second system in the region, is located in the Gulf of Mexico, several thousand miles south of New Orleans, Louisiana. It currently supports wind speeds of 35mph.

“Tropical Depression 8 is currently sucking up the moisture that is being generated from the rainfall over the Cayman Islands and other parts of the northwest Caribbean,” said Miller. “The models have it headed for Texas, and it could make landfall in the next couple of days.”

The third and final system is a disturbance that has formed off the western coast of Africa. According to the NHC, it has a 20% chance of further developing over the next five days.

For more information about the hurricane season, click here.

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