Invest 97L Poses Risk for Caribbean Sea

A tropical disturbance designated as Invest 97L poses a potential risk for locations around the Caribbean Sea.  At 8:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Invest 97L was located at latitude 13.1°N and longitude 55.3°W which put it about 285 miles (460 km) east of Barbados.  Invest 97L was moving toward the west at 19 m.p.h. (31 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. (70 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1008 mb.

A U.S. Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew a reconnaissance mission into Invest 97L on Tuesday afternoon.  The plane found the there were winds to near tropical storm force, but it could not identify a closed circulation.  The winds on the western side were weaker and the plane was unable to find a surface center.  There does seem to be cyclonic rotation above the surface at least on infrared satellite imagery.

The circulation in Invest 97L is still organizing.  Many of the stronger thunderstorms are forming north and east of the apparent center on satellite imagery.  Rainbands are also forming north and east of the center.  Recent satellite images suggest that some thunderstorms could be developing closer to the center of cyclonic rotation.  The current thunderstorms are generating upper level divergence which is pumping out mass to the north and east of the system.

Invest 97L is moving through an environment that is favorable for intensification.  It is moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  The upper level winds over the majority of the circulation are relatively weak.  An upper level trough over the Caribbean Sea is generating vertical wind shear over the northern fringe of the circulation.  Invest 97L could become a tropical storm at any time.

A subtropical high pressure system to the north of Invest 97L is steering it toward the west and that general motion is expected to continue for another day or two.  On its anticipated track Invest 97L will move through the Windward Islands near Barbados, St. Lucia, Martinique, and Dominica on Wednesday.  It could bring gusty winds and locally heavy rain to those locations.