Tropical wave unlikely to become even a depression as it makes its way across Atlantic

Chances remain low that a tropical wave in the eastern Atlantic Ocean will develop into a tropical depression, forecasters say.

As of 8 p.m. Wednesday the disturbance in the Atlantic has a 10% chance of developing in the next five days, down from 20% earlier, and a 10% chance of developing in the next 48 hours, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Winds are expected to make conditions increasingly unfavorable for any development over the next few days, the center’s 8 p.m. update says.

“It’s just poorly organized,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.

However, there’s still a good chance Atlantic storm activity ramps up as we enter what is traditionally the busiest part of hurricane season.

“The last couple of seasons have been so busy it makes it seem like this one is slow,” Pydynowski said. “The heart of the season is really usually that Aug. 15, Aug. 20 date to maybe the end of, or at least late October. So you really have the two months in there where you pick up the majority of your storms.

“Even though we’ve only had three [named storms in 2022], we are sort of on pace. How this season turns out is going to be determined by how any storms we get during the heart of the season.”

In the event the tropical wave in the Atlantic develops into a tropical depression, computer models show it’s unlikely to threaten Florida or the United States.

“It’s always hard to say definitively, especially when they’re this poorly organized,” Pydynowski said. “Initial indications look like it wants to maybe even go northeast of the [Eastern Caribbean] islands and northeast of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and then honestly beyond that some of the longer range computer models just sort of lose it. And I think that’s because it’s running into some higher and stronger wind shears so the feature sort of just weakens and dissipates.”

Little has changed with the disturbance in the past day. The system is several hundred miles off the African coast and is still producing disorganized rain showers and thunderstorms.

Forecasters said some gradual development is still possible as the disturbance churns west to west-northwest at 15 to 20 mph over the next few days.

“Once it approaches the Eastern Caribbean over the weekend, at that point it looks like it would move into a zone where there’s some pretty strong wind shear,” Pydynowski said. “So at that point if nothing develops by then, that will probably sort of bring the window to a close where something could come of this feature.”

The next named storm to form will be Danielle.

It appears the Atlantic could be quiet for a week or so after this tropical wave, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.

“Outside of this particular tropical wave, not much else stands out as far as candidates for development through Aug. 20,” he said.

The last Atlantic hurricane was Sam, which became a hurricane Sept. 24, 2021, and maintained that status until Oct 5 as it cut a path between the United States and Bermuda.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week updated predictions for activity this hurricane season.

Experts are now predicting 14 to 20 named storms and six to 10 hurricanes, with three to five of them a Category 3 or higher.

“At this point it looks like those numbers make sense,” Pydynowski said. “We’ve got plenty of warm water out there. We’ve been fighting a lot of dry air and dust and these waves coming off of Africa haven’t had a chance to really develop yet.

“But again, you can’t write off this season just yet. We’re just now starting to get into the heart of things.”

The statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is Sept. 10.

There have been three named storms in the Atlantic so far this year: Alex, Bonnie and Colin. Tropical Storm Alex, the first named storm, dumped as much as 12 inches of rain on parts of South Florida.

However, the season’s calling card to this point has been Tropical Storm Bonnie, which crossed from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean and then became Hurricane Bonnie. It was the first storm to hold together during an ocean crossing since Hurricane Otto in 2016.

“In terms of just anomalies or things you don’t see every hurricane season, that was probably the one that stood out,” Pydynowski said. “It’s pretty unusual to see a storm totally hold together across Central America and maintain the Atlantic name as it goes across the Pacific.”

The six-month hurricane season ends on Nov. 30.