A tropical wave that is still circulating over western Africa will emerge tomorrow, Wednesday, into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean with high potential for cyclonic development in seven days.
In fact, if the forecast comes true, This phenomenon could become Tropical Depression 16 over the weekendalthough its future intensity and movement are uncertain, due to the lack of consensus among meteorological models.
He National Hurricane Center (NHC, in English) estimated this Tuesday in its outlook for tropical conditions, published at 8:00 am, that The disturbance has a 0% chance of developing in 48 hours (two days) and a 70% chance of developing in the next seven days..
“Environmental conditions are forecast to be conducive to gradual development of the wave thereafter, and a tropical depression is likely to form late this week or this weekend as the system moves generally westward across the eastern and central tropical Atlantic,” the NHC projected in its report.
The lack of consensus between the models is due to the fact that the system has not left Africa. Therefore, the scenarios proposed, for the moment, are projections drawn for a phenomenon that has not yet moved over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean nor is it a formed cyclone, which poses a wide margin of error.
Sept 19 8 AM AST- NHC continues to monitor a new tropical wave still over Africa with a high chance potential of development in the next seven days.
CNH monitors tropical wave over Africa with high development potential in the next seven days. #prwx #usviwx pic.twitter.com/TV3nCn5Ie2
— NWS San Juan (@NWSSanJuan) September 19, 2023
Taking into account that the tropical wave will leave Africa tomorrow, the system is approximately six days away from positioning itself in the center of the tropical Atlantic, if it reaches that region.
Until now, the only model that, among its projections, brings this phenomenon closer to the Caribbean area is the American (GFS). However, this model did not even develop this system or bring it closer to the region yesterday, so its projections have not been consistent.
Meanwhile, the European model (ECMWF) is not very aggressive in developing the tropical wave and, contrary to the GFS, suggests that the disturbance will take a northerly turn as it moves over the center of the tropical Atlantic. Other regional models also suggest a similar movement, although there is no trend or consensus in these projections.
In terms of intensity, The uncertainty in the model projections is due to the fact that shear winds should dominate next week in the Atlantic and, therefore, it is imprecise at this time to know exactly how much, if anything, such conditions will affect the development or strengthening of this tropical wave.
Although this phenomenon could be classified as a suspected cyclonic zone AL99 in the coming days, the margin of error in the forecast would not be reduced until it becomes a cyclone.
If it reaches storm strength, the system would be named Ophelia.
So far this year, 15 storms have formed, six of which have reached hurricane strength and three of those were intense hurricanes (categories 3 to 5 in the Saffir-Simpson wind scale).
Carlos Tolentino Rosario is a journalist who covers weather, climate change and science, among others. He holds a certification in weather forecasting from the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences at Pennsylvania State University (PSU). He is also a member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS).