Tropical Update (Carolinas Need To Remain Alert)

Things have heated up in the Atlantic this week. Firsthand Weather is closely monitoring two systems: I) Invest 96 L and 2) Hurricane Beryl.

Invest 96 L
At this hour, we are keeping a close eye on a well-defined low that is spinning off of the coast of the Carolinas (see Fig. 1). Looking at the 850 mb vorticity, which shows the structure of the storm (see Fig. 2), shows Invest 96 L is compact and circular which is a positive sign for further development into a tropical cyclone (tropical depression or tropical storm) in the near future. The atmosphere has moistened paired with upper-level divergence (see Fig. 3), which has led to a substantial increase in convection associated with Invest 96 L (see Fig. 4). The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has given this low a 70% chance of development into a tropical cyclone over the next 48 hours and an 80% chance of development over the next five days.

Fig. 1: National Hurricane Center Forecast

Fig. 2: Current Vorticity Map (University of Wisconsin)

Fig. 3: Upper-Level Divergence Map (University of Wisconsin)

Fig. 4: Current Satellite Imagery

As Invest 96 L develops into a tropical cyclone (tropical depression or tropical storm) over the next couple of days, the system will track slowly north and westward towards the outerbanks of North Carolina. At the same time, a potent cold front will move into the Carolinas along with an approaching shortwave by Saturday night. Depending on the intensity of the low, it is possible it will get absorbed by the frontal system and eventually dissipate. Another possible scenario is the low intensifies and meanders just off of the coast of the Carolinas before either moving out-to-sea or towards land.

Right now, it is too early to determine if landfall will occur or if an out-to-sea scenario will occur. This situation needs to be closely monitored. If the low sits off of the coast of the Carolinas, it is possible (being on the western side) that rain and wind impacts may be minimal to nonexistent, but it is also possible that impacts may be felt if the system gets closer to the coast. Regardless, if you have beach plans in this area, it is best to stay out of the water. Rip currents will be a guaranteed hazard with this system.

Hurricane Beryl
We are also monitoring Hurricane Beryl (see Fig. 5). Beryl quickly strengthened into a hurricane and has maximum sustained winds of 80 mph with higher gusts and is moving to the west at 14 mph. Beryl should continue to strengthen over the next 24-36 hours with maximum sustained winds increasing to 100 to 110 mph. As Beryl approaches the Lesser Antilles by late this weekend, it should feel the influence of the shear over the eastern Caribbean (see Fig. 6) and weakening back into a tropical storm looks likely.

Fig. 5: National Hurricane Center Forecast

Fig. 6: Shear Map (University of Wisconsin)
Beryl should impact the islands as a tropical storm. Regardless of weakening, an increase in rain chances and gusty winds will occur for the Lesser Antilles followed by an increase in rain chances for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands early next week.

Please keep checking back for updates!