Category Archives: Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico

Atlantic TCs

Ophelia Strengthens to Major Hurricane South of the Azores

Hurricane Ophelia strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale on Saturday morning as it moved south of the Azores.  That made Ophelia a major hurricane.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Hurricane Ophelia was located at latitude 34.8°N and longitude 26.6°W which put it about 220 miles (355 km) south of the Azores.  Ophelia was moving toward the northeast at 25 m.p.h. (40 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 115 m.p.h. (185 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 135 m.p.h. (220 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 960 mb.

It is very unusual to have such a strong hurricane near the Azores, but Ophelia contains all of the elements of a major hurricane.  There is a circular eye at the center of circulation.  The eye is surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds are occurring in that ring of storms.  Well formed rainbands exists in the outer portions of the circulation.  Storms in the core of Ophelia are generating upper level divergence which is pumping mass away to the northeast of the hurricane.  Winds to hurricane force extend out about 40 miles (65 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 125 miles (205 km) from the center.

Hurricane Ophelia is moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 25°C.  Normally, water at that temperature would be considered to be too cool to support the development of a major hurricane.  However, the temperature of the air in the upper troposphere is also cool and so the atmosphere is unstable enough to allow for the development of deep convection.  An upper level trough west of Ophelia is producing southwesterly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation.  There are also southwesterly winds in the lower and middle levels of the atmosphere and so the vertical wind shear is not strong enough to inhibit intensification

Hurricane Ophelia will be moving over cooler water and it is likely to weaken gradually during the next several days.  When Ophelia moves over the cooler water it will make a transition to an extratropical cyclone.  The size of the circulation will increase during the transition.  Hurricane Ophelia will evolve into a large very powerful extratropical cyclone during the next several days.

The trough west of Ophelia is steering the hurricane toward the northeast.  Hurricane Ophelia is expected to turn more toward the north during the next two or three days.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Ophelia will pass east of the Azores later today.  The strong extratropical cyclone that Ophelia will transition into could approach Ireland and the United Kingdom by Monday morning.  That cyclone will bring very strong winds and heavy rain to that region.

Hurricane Ophelia Moves Closer to the Azores

Hurricane Ophelia moved closer to the Azores on Friday.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Hurricane Ophelia was located at latitude 32.3°N and longitude 31.8°W which put it about 480 miles (770 km) southwest of the Azores.  Ophelia was moving toward the east-northeast at 13 m.p.h. (20 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 120 m.p.h. (195 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 971 mb.

Despite moving over slightly cooler water, Hurricane Ophelia maintained its structure and intensity on Friday.  There was a small circular eye at the center of circulation, although there appeared to be a break on the northwest side of the ring of thunderstorms around the eye.  Thunderstorms in the core of Ophelia were generating upper level divergence which was pumping away mass.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Hurricane Ophelia.  The stronger rainbands were in the eastern half of the circulation.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 25 miles (40 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 100 miles (160 km) from the center.

Hurricane Ophelia will move through an environment that is capable of supporting a strong cyclone.  Ophelia will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 25°C.  Normally, that water would be too cool to support a strong hurricane.  However, the temperature in the upper levels of the atmosphere is also cool and that is keeping the atmosphere unstable enough to allow for thunderstorms to develop.  The speed of the winds in Hurricane Ophelia is likely to decrease gradually during the next several days.

When Hurricane Ophelia moves farther north, it will move into a cooler environment with stronger westerly winds in the upper levels.  A cooler environment with more vertical wind shear will cause the structure of Hurricane Ophelia change into the structure of an extratropical cyclone.  The area of stronger winds will expand and the cyclone will become much larger.

Hurricane Ophelia is being steered toward the east-northeast by westerly winds in the middle levels.  A trough will approach Hurricane Ophelia from the west.  Southwesterly winds ahead of the trough will carry Ophelia more toward the north in about 36 hours.  On its anticipated track the center of Hurricane Ophelia will move south of the Azores on Saturday.  Ophelia could bring gusty winds and rain to the Azores when it moves by those islands.  The strong extratropical cyclone that evolves from Hurricane Ophelia could approach Ireland and the United Kingdom on Monday.  That cyclone could bring very strong winds and heavy rain to that region.

Ophelia Strengthens Into a Hurricane Southwest of the Azores

Tropical Storm Ophelia strengthened into a hurricane southwest of the Azores on Wednesday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Hurricane Ophelia was located at latitude 30.0°N and longitude 35.7°W which put it about 745 miles (1195 km) southwest of the Azores.  Ophelia was moving toward the northeast at 3 m.p.h.  The maximum sustained wind speed was 85 m.p.h. (140 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 986 mb.

The circulation of Hurricane Ophelia became more circular and symmetrical on Wednesday.  A circular eye developed at the center of circulation.  Thunderstorms in the ring around the eye became taller.  Additional bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Hurricane Ophelia.  Thunderstorms in the core were producing upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the east of the hurricane.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 25 miles (40 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 70 miles (110 km) from the center.

Hurricane Ophelia will be moving through an environment that could support further intensification on Thursday.  Ophelia will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 26.5°C.  Ophelia is in an area of weaker upper level winds.  It is north of the subtropical jet stream and it is south of the stronger westerly winds in the middle latitudes.  As a result the vertical wind shear is minimal.  The combination of warm water and little shear allowed Ophelia to intensify into a hurricane and it could strengthen further on Thursday.

Hurricane Ophelia is in an area of weak westerly winds which are steering the hurricane slowly toward the east.  An upper level trough will approach Ophelia from the west and the trough will start to pull the hurricane toward the northeast more quickly later this week.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Ophelia could approach the Azores in two or three days.

Tropical Storm Ophelia Forms Over Eastern Atlantic

The busy 2017 Atlantic hurricane season continued when Tropical Storm Ophelia formed over the eastern Atlantic Ocean on Monday.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Monday the center of Tropical Storm Ophelia was located at latitude 31.5°N and longitude 39.6°W which put it about 845 miles (1355 km) west-southwest of the Azores.  Ophelia was moving toward the northeast at 3 m.p.h. (5 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1005 mb.

Thunderstorms formed on Monday near the center of a low pressure system which had been lingering over the eastern Atlantic Ocean and the National Hurricane Center designated the system as Tropical Storm Ophelia.  The thunderstorms formed near the eastern side of the center and several bands of showers and thunderstorms formed in the rest of the eastern half of the circulation.  There were fewer thunderstorms in the western half of Ophelia.  The thunderstorms near the center of circulation were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the east of the tropical storm.

Tropical Storm Ophelia is an environment that is somewhat favorable to intensification.  Ophelia is moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) is near 27°C.  It is near the axis of an upper level trough which is oriented east to west over the Atlantic Ocean.  The trough is producing westerly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation and those winds are causing some vertical wind shear.  However, since Ophelia is over water where the SST is 27°C, the clouds are not rising as far into the atmosphere as they would if the water was warmer and some of the upper level winds are blowing completely over the top of the circulation of the tropical storm.  So, the vertical wind shear is not as significant as it could be if the top of Ophelia was higher in the atmosphere.  Tropical Storm Ophelia is likely to strengthen during the next several days and it could eventually become a hurricane.

Since Tropical Storm Ophelia is near the axis of the upper level trough, the steering winds are weaker.  The westerly flow is pushing Ophelia slowly toward the northeast.  The orientation of the trough is forecast to change during the next day or two and Ophelia is expected to move more toward the east-southeast.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Ophelia is expected to meander over the eastern Atlantic Ocean for several more days.

Hurricane Nate Brings Gusty Winds and Surge to Mississippi Coast

Hurricane Nate brought gusty winds, heavy rain and a storm surge to the coast of Mississippi on Saturday night.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Hurricane Nate was located at latitude 29.9°N and longitude 89.1°W which put it about 35 miles (60 km) south-southwest of Biloxi, Mississippi.  Nate was moving toward the north at 20 m.p.h. (32 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 85 m.p.h. (140 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 983 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from the mouth of the Pearl River to the Alabama/Florida border.  Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the mouth of the Pearl River, for New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain and for the coast from the Alabama/Florida border to Indian Pass, Florida.

Some drier air wrapped into the western side of Hurricane Nate on Saturday afternoon.  In addition an upper level trough approaching Nate from the west produced southwesterly winds which caused vertical wind shear.  The drier air and shear caused the circulation of Hurricane Nate to become asymmetrical.  The stronger winds are occurring in the eastern half of the circulation.  The winds are weaker in the western side of the hurricane.  The bands of showers and thunderstorms are also occurring in the eastern half of Hurricane Nate.  Very little rain was falling on the western side of the hurricane.

The partial eyewall north of the center of Hurricane Nate was moving over the coast of Mississippi from Pascagoula to Gulfport.  Strong gusty winds and heavy rain were falling on that section of the coast.  Winds blowing water toward the coast were pushing a storm surge onto the coast.  A water level gauge at a NOAA laboratory in Pascagoula, Mississippi was reporting a storm surge of 6.75 feet (2.06 meters).  The highest surges were occurring in Mississippi, but there were also storm surges on the coast of Alabama and Florida.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were dropping heavy rain over southeastern Mississippi, southwestern and central Alabama and northwestern Florida.  Brief tornadoes spun up in some of the thunderstorms on Saturday.

Hurricane Nate will move inland over southeastern Mississippi during the overnight hours.  Nate will weaken after it moves inland, but it will continue to bring gusty winds as it spins down.  There is a strong flow of moist air from the south and heavy rain will continue to fall east of the track of Hurricane Nate.  Places west of the track will experience weaker winds and will receive little rain.  Locations west of a line from New Orleans to Hattiesburg to Meridian,  Mississippi could see little minimal impacts from Nate.  Nate will cross over west central Alabama on Sunday morning.  It will continue to move toward the north-northeast and the remnants of Nate could reach eastern Tennessee on Sunday night.  Areas of heavy rain will fall over northwestern Florida, Alabama, northern Georgia, eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina.  Fresh water flooding could occur in some of those areas.  Tornadoes could develop in the rainbands again on Sunday afternoon.

Hurricane Nate Speeds Toward Gulf Coast

Strengthening Hurricane Nate sped toward the central Gulf Coast on Saturday.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Hurricane Nate was located at latitude 26.6°N and longitude 88.4°W which put it about 265 miles (425 km) south of Biloxi, Mississippi.  Nate was moving toward the north-northwest at 26 m.p.h. (43 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 90 m.p.h. (150 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 105 m.p.h. (165 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 984 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.  A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line and from Grand Isle to Morgan City, Louisiana.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Alabama/Florida border to Indian Pass, Florida and from Grand Isle to Morgan City.  A Tropical Storm Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Morgan City to Intracoastal City, Louisiana.

Hurricane Nate strengthened on Saturday as it moved over the warm water in the Gulf of Mexico.  An eye with a diameter of 30 miles (50 km) began to form at the center of circulation.  A ring of thunderstorms around the eye was generating strong upper level divergence which pumped mass away from Hurricane Nate.  The strongest winds were occurring in the eastern side of the circulation.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 35 miles (55 km) east of the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 120 miles (195 km) east of the center, but they only extend out about 60 miles (95 km) to the west of the center.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Nate is 13.9.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 7.7 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 21.6.

Hurricane Nate will continue to intensify during the next 12 hours until it makes landfall.  Nate will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  An upper low over the western Gulf of Mexico is producing southerly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation.  However, there are also southerly winds in the lower levels of the atmosphere and as a result, there is not much vertical wind shear.  Hurricane Nate is likely to intensify to a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale before it makes landfall.  There is a chance Hurricane Nate could intensify to Category 3 before landfall, if it continues to intensify rapidly.

The upper low and an upper level ridge east of Florida are combining to steer Hurricane Nate quickly toward the north-northwest and that motion is expected to continue for the next few hours.  An upper level trough over the Central U.S. will approach Nate on Saturday night as the hurricane nears the coast.  The trough will turn Hurricane Nate more toward the north as it reaches the coast.  The trough should steer Nate quickly toward the north-northeast after it makes landfall.  On its anticipated track the center of Hurricane Nate will pass near the mouth of the Mississippi River on Saturday evening.  The center of Nate will likely make landfall on the coast of Mississippi or near Mobile on Saturday night.

Hurricane Nate will be capable of causing regional serious damage when it makes landfall.  Nate will produce strong winds, especially in locations east of the track of the hurricane.  Nate will also be capable of producing a storm surge of 10 to 12 feet (3 to 4 meters) along the coast.  The surge will be higher in bays, inlets and mouths of rivers that funnel the water into specific areas.  Nate will also be capable of dropping heavy rain as it moves inland.

Stronger Tropical Storm Nate Speeds Toward Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Warning for New Orleans

A stronger Tropical Storm Nate sped toward the Gulf of Mexico on Friday afternoon and a Hurricane Warning was issued for the city of New Orleans.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Tropical Storm Nate was located at latitude 20.3°N and longitude 85.7°W which put it about 80 miles (125 km) east of Cozumel, Mexico and about 710 miles (1145 km) south-southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana.  Nate was moving toward the north-northwest at 21 m.p.h. (33 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 993 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.  A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle to Morgan City, Louisiana and from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line.  A Tropical Storm Watch was in effect from Morgan City to Intracoastal City, Lousiana and from the Okaloosa/Walton County line to Indian Pass, Florida.  A Hurricane Watch and a Tropical Storm Warning are in effect for the portion of the coast from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos, Mexico.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Pinar del Rio province in Cuba.  A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Isle of Youth province in Cuba.

The inner core of Tropical Storm Nate tightened up on Friday afternoon.  A primary rainband wrapped about three quarters of the way around the center of circulation.  There was an opening to the northeast of the center.  The rainband could develop into an eyewall if it wraps completely around the center of circulation.  Additional bands of showers and thunderstorms formed outside the core of Tropical Storm Nate.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 125 miles (200 km) to the east of the center of circulation.  The winds were weaker in the western half of the circulation.  Thunderstorms near the core began to generate stronger upper level divergence which was pumping out mass and the surface pressure decreased on Friday afternoon.

Tropical Storm Nate will move through an environment favorable for intensification on Saturday.  Nate will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  An upper level low over the western Gulf of Mexico is producing southerly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation but the vertical wind shear is not too strong.  Tropical Storm Nate will become a hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico.  If an eyewall and an eye form, then Nate could have a period of rapid intensification.

The upper low over the western Gulf of Mexico and a ridge east of Florida are combining to steer Tropical Storm Nate toward the north-northwest and that general motion is expected to continue on Saturday.  An upper level trough approaching from the west will turn Nate toward the northeast when it nears the U.S.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Nate will pass near the northeastern end of the Yucatan peninsula and move into the Gulf of Mexico on Friday night.  Nate will approach southeastern Louisiana and Central Gulf Coast on Saturday night.

Nate will be a hurricane when it nears the U.S.  It will be capable of producing serious regional wind damage and power outages.  Nate could cause a storm surge of 10-12 feet (3 to 4 meters) near where the center makes landfall.  Nate could also drop locally heavy rain and cause fresh water flooding when it moves inland in the southern U.S.

Tropical Storm Nate Makes Landfall in Nicaragua

Tropical Depression Sixteen strengthened into Tropical Storm Nate and Nate made landfall on the coast of northeastern Nicaragua on Thursday morning.  At 2:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Tropical Storm Nate was located at latitude 14.5°N and longitude 84.0°W which put it about 50 miles (80 km) south-southwest of Puerto Lempira, Honduras.  Nate was moving toward the northwest at 9 m.p.h. (15 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1001 mb.

A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos, Mexico.  A Tropical Storm Warning is also in effect from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from Sandy Bay Sirpi, Nicaragua to Punta Castilla, Honduras.

The center of Tropical Depression Sixteen strengthened on Thursday morning before it made landfall in Nicaragua and the National Hurricane Center designated the system as Tropical Storm Nate.  Showers and thunderstorms continue to develop near the center of circulation even though it is moving across northeastern Nicaragua.  The winds to tropical storm force are occurring in bands of showers and storms east of the center over the Caribbean Sea.  The winds are weaker in the portions of the circulation that are over land.

Tropical Storm Nate will not strengthen while the center is over land.  Nate will move into a favorable environment when it moves over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.  The Sea Surface Temperature will be near 30°C.  An upper level low will cause southerly winds to blow toward the top of the circulation, but the vertical wind shear is not likely to be strong enough to prevent intensification.  It could take a few hours for the inner core of the circulation to reorganize after it moves back over water.  Once the inner core reorganizes, then a period of rapid intensification could occur.  Nate could become a hurricane over the northwest Caribbean Sea or southern Gulf of Mexico.

An upper level low west of Florida will drift westward over the Gulf of Mexico.  The upper low and an upper level ridge east of Florida will combine to steer Tropical Storm Nate toward the north-northwest.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Nate will emerge over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.  Nate could be near the Yucatan peninsula on Friday night and it could move into the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday.  Nate could approach the northern Gulf Coast on Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Tropical Storm Nate is dropping heavy rain on parts of Nicaragua and Honduras.  There is the potential for flooding in those areas.  Nate is likely to be a hurricane when it approaches the Gulf Coast.  It will be capable of causing wind damage, a storm surge and locally heavy rain.

Tropical Depression 16 Organizes Near Nicaragua

Tropical Depression Sixteen organized near Nicaragua on Wednesday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Tropical Depression Sixteen was located at latitude 12.8°N and longitude 82.7°W which put it about 95 miles (155 km) south-southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.  It was moving toward the northwest at 6 m.p.h. (10 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 35 m.p.h. (55 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1004 mb.

A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Punta Herrero to Cabo Catoche, Mexico.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Sandy Bay Sirpi, Nicaragua to Punta Castilla, Honduras.

The circulation of Tropical Depression Sixteen exhibited more organization on Wednesday.  An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance aircraft found a distinct surface center of circulation on Wednesday afternoon.  More thunderstorms began to form near the center on Wednesday evening.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms developed on the northern and southern sides of the circulation.  There were sustained winds in some of the bands that were near tropical storm force.

Tropical Depression Sixteen will move through an environment that will be favorable for intensification during the next several days.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  The upper level winds will be weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Some of the western part of the circulation is passing over Nicaragua and the increased friction is the only factor inhibiting intensification.  If the center of circulation stays over water, then the depression will likely strengthen into a tropical storm on Thursday.  If the center of circulation moves over northeastern Nicaragua, then the depression will weaken.  The system is likely to strengthen when it moves over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.

A ridge of high pressure is steering the tropical depression slowly toward the northwest and that motion is expected to continue for another day or so.  An upper low near the west coast of Florida is going to move west across the Gulf of Mexico.  When the upper low gets northwest of Tropical Depression Sixteen, it will start to pull the depression more toward the north.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Depression Sixteen will move near or over northeastern Nicaragua on Thursday.  The depression could drop very heavy rain and cause floods in parts of Nicaragua and Honduras.  It is forecast to move over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday and the depression could be near the northeastern Yucatan peninsula by Friday night.  The depression is expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday.  There is more uncertainty about the future track of the system after that time.

Low Pressure Develops Over Southwest Caribbean Sea

An area of low pressure developed over the southwestern Caribbean Sea on Tuesday afternoon and the system was designated Invest 90L.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Invest 90L was located at latitude 12.0°N and longitude 80.7°W which put it about 200 miles (320 km) east of Bluefields, Nicaragua.  It was moving toward the west-northwest at 5 m.p.h. (8 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 30 m.p.h. (50 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1008 mb.

The circulation of Invest 90L was still organizing on Tuesday afternoon.  The area of low pressure appeared to have a distinct center of circulation.  Several bands of showers and thunderstorms were forming south and east of the center of circulation.  There were fewer showers and thunderstorms northwest of the center.  There was some upper level divergence that was pumping mass away to the south and west of the center.

Invest 90L will be moving through an environment favorable for intensification.  The Sea Surface Temperature in the southwest Caribbean Sea is near 30°C and the warm water is fairly deep.  The energy content of the water in that area is high.  An upper level ridge centered over the western Gulf of Mexico is producing northeasterly which are blowing toward the northwestern side of Invest 90L.  Those winds are producing some vertical wind shear, but the shear is not likely to be strong enough to prevent the formation of a tropical cyclone.  Invest 90L is likely to become a tropical depression or storm during the next 24 to 48 hours.  If the center remains east of Nicaragua, rapid intensification could occur after the circulation consolidates around the low level center.

Invest 90L is moving slowly toward the west-northwest as it moves near the southern side of a mid-level ridge.  That ridge could steer Invest 90L close to the coast of Nicaragua during the next several days.  The mid-level ridge is forecast to move east to near the Bahamas during the next 24 to 48 hours.  After that time, southerly winds are forecast to steer Invest 90L toward the north.  On its anticipated track the center of Invest 90L could move very close to Nicaragua during the next day or two.  It could bring locally heavy rain to Nicaragua and Honduras.  Invest 90L could move into the Gulf of Mexico in a few days.  The intensity of Invest 90L when it reaches the Gulf will depend on how much it interacts with Nicaragua and the Yucatan peninsula.  If the center stays over water, then it could be a hurricane when it reaches the Gulf of Mexico.  If the center spends more time over land, then the system will be weaker when it reaches the Gulf.  Some models are forecasting that a hurricane could make landfall on the northern Gulf Coast during the weekend.