Potential Tropical Development Near East Coast of U.S.

There is the potential for the development of a tropical cyclone near the East Coast of the U.S. during the next several days.  A low pressure system, currently designated as Invest 98L developed over the northern Gulf of Mexico during the weekend.  The low moved slowly toward the northeast across the southeastern U.S.  At 2:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday the low level center of Invest 98L was located at latitude 33.3°N and longitude 80.5°W which put it about 25 miles (40 km) west of Charleston, South Carolina.  The low was moving toward the east at 9 m.p.h. (15 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 25 m.p.h. (40 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 35 m.p.h. (55 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1013 mb.

Invest 98L currently consists primarily of a lower level circulation.  Much of the circulation is over land and the center is west of Charleston, South Carolina.  Many of the bands revolving around the center of the low pressure system consist of showers and lower clouds.  There are bands of showers and thunderstorms on the far eastern edge of the circulation which is over the Gulf Stream.  An upper level trough over the southeastern U.S. is producing westerly winds which are blowing across the top of the low level circulation.

Invest 98L will move into an environment more favorable for the development of a tropical cyclone.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 27°C when the center moves over the Atlantic Ocean.  The upper level trough will over the southeastern U.S. will cause moderate vertical wind shear.  The wind shear will inhibit development.  If thunderstorms develop closer to the center of circulation, those storms could cause the circulation grow vertically into the middle and upper troposphere.  If the thunderstorms release enough latent energy in the middle and upper troposphere, a warm core could form and Invest 98L could become a tropical cyclone.

The National Hurricane Center indicated in the 8:00 a.m. EDT Tropical Weather Outlook on Wednesday that the probability was 70% that a tropical or subtropical cyclone could form during the next five days.  An upper level trough approaching the eastern U.S. will steer the low pressure system toward the north-northeast during the next few days.  On its anticipated track the low pressure system will move near the East Coast of the U.S.  A reconnaissance aircraft is tentatively scheduled to investigate Invest 98L later on Wednesday, if necessary.