The tropics are stirring
The statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is approaching and, right on schedule, the tropical weather news is heating up. Hurricane forecasters are now watching two storm systems, one of which reached tropical storm strength this morning.
The first and least worrisome for the moment is Tropical Depression 4, renamed TS Dean this morning as winds topped 39 mph. It formed yesterday far out in the Atlantic. It is headed west, toward the Lesser Antilles, at more than 20 mph.
Here is the latest advisory on Dean. Here is the satellite view. And here is the storm track, the central line of which shows it becoming a hurricane threat to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The newcomer this morning is a storm system gathering strength off the Yucatan Peninsula, in the central Gulf of Mexico. It is expected to strengthen today and pose a threat to the western or northwestern shores of the Gulf.
There is no advisory yet, but below is part of this morning's discussion from the National Hurricane Center. Here is the satellite view. And here is a map of sea surface temperatures. It shows the Gulf is very warm - primed to fuel the development of tropical storms and hurricanes.
"1007 MB LOW IS CENTERED NEAR 22N88W...OR JUST OFF THE N COAST
OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA. THE ASSOCIATED TROPICAL WAVE IS JUST
OT THE W OF THE LOW CENTER. THE SYSTEM CONTINUES INTERACT WITH
AN UPPER LOW MOVING ACROSS THE W GULF OF MEXICO AND IS PRODUCING
WIDESPREAD CLOUDINESS WITH CLUSTERS OF SCATTERED
SHOWERS/ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE SE GULF...S OF 27N
BETWEEN 83W-90W. UPPER-LEVEL WINDS CONTINUE TO BECOME MORE
FAVORABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM...AND A TROPICAL
DEPRESSION COULD FORM LATER TODAY AS THE LOW MOVES TO THE WNW
NEAR 10-15 KT. INTERESTS IN THE W GULF OF MEXICO SHOULD CONTINUE
TO MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THIS SYSTEM. AN AIR FORCE RESERVE
RECONNAISSANCE PLANE IS SCHEDULED TO INVESTIGATE THIS SYSTEM
TOMORROW AFTERNOON...IF NECESSARY."
Meanwhile, out in the Pacific Ocean, Hurricane Flossie is bearing down on the Hawaiian Islands. Here's the latest advisory. Twenty-five-foot surf anyone? Here's the infrared satellite view, and here is the predicted storm track. And here is what the Hawaiian newspapers are saying.
And here is a terrific view from orbit, just in.