Disturbance Ten dissipated in the western Gulf of Mexico overnight.
Reconnaissance continue to buzz tropical storm ELSA as opinions still vary over its track and intensity when it reaches the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Currently closing on Jamaica, ELSA is producing winds gusting 75 knots with a windfield radius of 120 miles. A turn across Cuba is expected later today which introduces uncertainty as to how much shape and form will be lost as it crosses high land. If ELSA does not replenish significantly on reaching the Gulf, then the storm is at peak now with a hurricane severity index rating of 5 (2 for size and 3 for intensity) but this is a conservative estimate in my view since the cyclone has lost its debilitating forward momentum, now down to a sensible 14 knots, and this may allow intensification in the next few hours. Once over Cuba, ELSA will enter the eastern Gulf tomorrow and is expected to parallel the Florida coast with an increasing likelihood of a landfall before reaching the Florida panhandle. Intensity and track remain speculative but without doubt, tropical storm conditions will be experienced along the west coast of Florida. For now, strong winds, heavy rain with possible localised flooding and stormy conditions are spreading across Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti.
700 miles south-east of Trinidad, Disturbance Fifteen is moving west-nor’west at 16 knots. Dry air is taking bites out of the vertical convection column keeping development in check for the time being.
Disturbance Sixteen is about a day’s steaming south-west of the Cape Verde Islands shaping up to join the westbound conveyor belt at around 15 knots. This is also hitting dry air which will prevent development for the next few days as least.
Stand by for tropical storm conditions across Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti with a weather watch for the west coast of Florida.
Image Mario Salieri