Imagery and annotations by the National Weather Service Ocean Prediction Center
It’s the time of year for swirling storms in the tropics, and late August is living up to its reputation. The Atlantic has Danny and Invest 97L. The eastern/central Pacific have Kilo, Loke, and Invest 95E. And in the eastern Pacific, the impressive duo of Goni and Atsani continue to churn. The northern hemisphere has been pumping out tropical energy this season, but the big question is – will these storms have any impact? Let’s take a look.
We’ll start with the storm you’ve probably heard most about – Danny. There was a small window where intensification was possible, and Danny came through! It’s a small but fierce storm, and reached MAJOR (Cat 3+) status on Friday with winds up to 115mph. But the window has closed on Danny. The road ahead is a much more hostile one, and that’s good news for those on land. Its inner core was able to fend off dusty Saharan air for a while on Friday, but now a thick layer in its path should start to be injected into the storm. Wind shear is also much higher in Danny’s path to the west, which disrupts tropical circulations and keeps the lid on storm intensity. It will also help to pump more of that dusty air into its circulation.
As the storm moves west-northwest, it’s expected to weaken to tropical storm status. I think there’s reason to believe that Danny will be more beneficial rain than destructive storm. No doubt there could be some strong wind gusts for the Leeward Islands, British and U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. But the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has been in such bad drought that some tropical rain would be quite welcome. Many parts of the island have even been declared federal disaster areas due to drought. That said, intensity forecasts are the single most difficult part of tropical forecasting, so these storms always need to be watched very carefully. For now, Danny should not have a very destructive impact on the islands late Sunday into Tuesday.
After that? The story is a little more unclear. The environment is hostile around the islands, but if the circulation can remain intact and drift north there is a chance Danny could get a second wind. The shear is lower between the Bahamas and Bermuda, and water temperatures are quite warm. Should the storm survive and get into the area, it could rapidly reorganize next week. Even still, a trough is expected to dig down across the eastern U.S. by Wednesday. This should help keep the East Coast protected, and keep Danny (if it still exists at that time) out to sea.
Also worth noting is Invest 97L, a swirling low near Bermuda. This system is not tropical as of this writing, but as a low to moderate chance or organizing over the weekend. Its circulation will stay offshore of New England regardless, but it’s not impossible the storm could gain the name ‘Erika’ late this weekend or on Monday. The impact on us would be for increasing surf, especially on Monday, and some of its subtropical air helping to enhance showers/downpours on Sunday.
If we turn our attention to the Pacific, Kilo is a storm to keep close tabs on. If any of these systems has a major impact, it would likely be this one. El Nino years are notorious for active Pacific seasons – including the central Pacific. There have now already been 5 named storms in the central Pacific this year, the most on record! Records for that basin go back to 1949.
The future intensity of Kilo is a very uncertain and difficult call. Some models have turned out aggressive solutions for a Cat 3+ hurricane, while others linger out to the west of Hawaii as a weaker storm. But this is a path that can be very dangerous for Hawaii, and anyone there/visiting should monitor Kilo for potential impact early next week. It’s return curve should bring it close to Kauai and increase surf for the south shores of the Hawaiian chain at the very least.