It’s been a fast start to the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, with four named storms already in the books and a new record for early-season development less than one month into the official start to the season. AccuWeather forecasters are now monitoring Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico waters for a possible flurry of new development during the first part of July, some of which could dampen the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend.
After Tropical Storm Dolly’s demise in the North Atlantic, a mammoth Saharan dust cloud that emerged off the African coast and spread across the Atlantic garnered the attention of meteorologists and interests in the basin last week. The dust eventually shrouded the sun and led to hazardous air quality across the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and southern parts of the United States, but now some of these areas will have to turn their attention back to the potential for tropical development.
One area for potential tropical development is tied to the evolution of a system bringing drenching downpours to the Northeast during the early and middle part of the week.
“A nearly stationary area of low pressure sitting over New England during the first half of the week will drift south and east off the coast during the second half of the week,” AccuWeather’s top hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski explained.
When this happens, a second area of low pressure may form off the mid-Atlantic or Carolina coast and acquire some tropical characteristics. The formation of this system could closely resemble that of Tropical Storm Dolly, which developed off the East Coast on June 23, becoming the second earliest “D” named storm in the Atlantic.
The system could become a hybrid storm, meaning it attains both tropical and non-tropical characteristics, and it could be named a subtropical storm, according to AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno. This type of “homegrown” storm, which could brew just offshore of the U.S., is often what forecasters watch for early in the season, he added.
“The biggest threat with a system forming off the East Coast late this week could be increased surf and rip currents for some East Coast boaters and beach-goers just in time for the holiday weekend,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Courtney Travis said.
Yet another area of concern will take shape along the upper Gulf Coast during the holiday weekend and into the start of next week.
“Low pressure will slide southward from the Plains through the Mississippi Valley late this week, before turning east and skirting along the central and eastern Gulf Coast during the weekend,” Kottlowski said.
This system is then expected to cross the northern Florida Peninsula and emerge off the Southeast coast next week.
“Early next week, this could be another system that acquires tropical characteristics as it turns northeastward along the Southeast and Carolina coast,” Kottlowski said.
Even though the extent of tropical development with this system is uncertain along the Gulf Coast, it will still put a damper on many Independence Day weekend activities in the South.
“Downpours will drench some trying to get outdoors to enjoy the holiday near the central and eastern Gulf Coast and across southern Georgia and much of Florida,” Travis said.
“Thunderstorms will also pose hazards for boaters and those on the beach with frequent lightning, locally gusty winds and perhaps even a few waterspouts.”
A system over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean seems to have lost its chance to develop.
“A tropical wave southeast of Barbados showed some signs of low-level rotation in satellite imagery at the start of this week,” Kottlowski said.
Strong upper-level winds and drier, dustier air was engulfing the featuer as it approached the Windward Islands on Tuesday. This will prevent any further development of the system.
Regardless of further development, gusty winds and heavy showers are expected across the Windward Islands Tuesday night into Wednesday.
The next tropical storm in the Atlantic will be given the name Edouard. The last time the current list of names was used was in 2014. During that year, it took until the second week of September for the “E” storm to develop.