Tropical Storm Josephine developed over the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday and is forecast to produce gusty winds and downpours in parts of the Leeward Islands this weekend before it runs into some more weather hurdles.
As of 11 a.m. Thursday, Tropical Storm Josephine was moving to the west-northwest at 15 mph and was located about 975 miles to the east-southeast of the northern Leeward Islands. The system’s maximum sustained winds were 45 mph.
Josephine has shattered the early-season formation record for the J-named storm in the basin by nine days. The former record belonged to Jose, which developed on Aug. 22, 2005.
Prior to Josephine, the 2020 hurricane season as already left its mark on the history books multiple times so far with storms Cristobal, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna and Isaias all setting early-season formation records. Except for Cristobal, the storms bumped off record-setters from the 2005 season. The prior earliest C-named storm was Colin from 2016.
A disturbance spinning over the middle of the Atlantic organized enough to be named Tropical Depression 11 at 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. At 11 a.m. Thursday, the depression was upgraded to the ninth tropical storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season and in the process has set another record for the basin.
Josephine was able to form despite being in a sea of dry air as wind shear dipped enough to allow thunderstorms to wrap around the center of the storm.
“The tropical cyclone has until later Friday or Friday night to strengthen before encountering increasing vertical wind shear from the southwest,” AccuWeather’s top hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said.
“After that, Josephine is forecast to remain within that vertical wind shear, causing it to lose wind intensity,” he added.
“We expect Josephine to move on a curved path to the northwest then the north in the coming days,” Kottlowski stated.
Josephine will move along the western part of the Bermuda-Azores high pressure area, which is a fairly permanent feature of clockwise steering winds over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
“On this forecast track, the evolving tropical storm will pass just east and north of the Leeward Islands Friday night and Saturday and pass well east of the Bahamas on Sunday,” Kottlowski stated.
The Leeward Islands include Antiqua, Guadeloupe, Barbuda, Montserrat, Dominica, St. Martin, Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis, and the British and United States Virgin Islands.
“The center of the long-range Eye Path might be misleading, and all interests in the Lesser Antilles, especially the Leeward Islands should closely monitor the progress of this system,” Kottlowski said.
There is the risk of gusty squalls and downpours to develop on the southern flank of the storm, even if the center passes by to the northeast of the Leeward Islands.