HARVEY passes the storm baton to IRMA

Much weakened Tropical Depression HARVEY is well off marine radar now moving across northeastern Louisiana and continuing to weaken bringing a welcome end to a catastrophic storm. Good riddance.

Unfortunately, as one door closed, another opened. Disturbance Thirty Six took advantage of a break in dry air and upper level shear to gear up rapidly overnight and has become Tropical Storm IRMA. All environmental indicators are showing green lights for IRMA to become our second hurricane in a fortnight quite soon. Centred around three days west of the Cape Verde Islands and around 1800 miles east of the Caribbean, current winds are somewhere around 80 knots now but likely to have increased in the time it takes me to send this. On its current track, the storm is expected to curve slightly north of track passing close to the northernmost Lesser Antilles next week as a major hurricane. Thereafter it is too far ahead to determine track with any certainty but three possibilities are being kicked around. An early turn into the western Atlantic - obviously the preferred choice, a swipe across the Bahamas and Florida east coast or a dash across the Florida peninsula into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This has a long way to go but I wouldn't put the hurricane response plans away just yet. Our guy in the snowbound hut is naturally going for option three. Some statistician out there is obviously working hard to tell us when the last time two sequential hurricanes hit cat 3 and above.

Let's get all the bad news out at the same time. Chatterers have been talking for a few days about a low pressure development in the Gulf of Mexico coming up from the western Caribbean this weekend. At the very least, this is likely to bring more rain to the Gulf coast next week. Development is not out of the question although chances are less than evens at the moment.

Stand easy in the short term but a weather watch needed in the central Atlantic and far western Caribbean.