Talkin' Tropics - July 9-14: Watching Chantal


Posted on July 9, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 29 at 10:38 PM

Alexandra Cranford / WWL Eyewitness News Forecast Team

A weekly discussion of the tropics from the Eyewitness News Forecast Team

The big feature we’ll be watching this week is of course Tropical Storm Chantal. It formed in the eastern Atlantic on Sunday night and has been racing across the ocean at a rapid speed.

Chantal is charging into the eastern Caribbean Sea early this week and will arrive near Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Wednesday. Above average rain of 2-6 inches is on tap for islands in the Caribbean.

Chantal is gradually gaining strength, and models have it staying just below Category 1 hurricane status on Wednesday. Keep in mind intensity estimates are typically difficult to predict, so the forecast could change.

But here’s why Chantal is not predicted to get all that strong:

1. Chantal is racing along too quickly to pick up a ton of power
2. The high mountains over Hispaniola and Cuba will interfere with the storm’s circulation
3. Stronger winds aloft over the Caribbean Sea will knock down some of the storm’s force

Now for where it’s heading at the end of the week: most models show Chantal drifting north over the Bahamas by Thursday, driven northward by a low pressure system in that area.

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After that, there’s still a lot of uncertainty. Some models show high pressure building over the western Atlantic Ocean. That could shove Chantal to the northwest/west along the shores of eastern Florida.

Will Chantal veer far enough west to cross over the Florida peninsula and enter the northern Gulf of Mexico? It’s a possibility, but right now it’s too far out to say for a tropical system like this. We’ll be watching very closely over the next several days.

Aside from Chantal, the rest of the Caribbean and Gulf should remain fairly quiet this week, due to surface ridging.

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The only other spot to watch is the eastern Atlantic, where a few more tropical waves could spawn. Still, a deep layer of dry, dusty Saharan air could make it hard for systems to form.

During weeks like this, things change daily. Keep watching your tropical video updates from the Eyewitness Forecast Team. Carl, Laura, Derek and Alexandra post new updates several times a day.

Remember to check back next week for your updated Talkin' Tropics discussion. Every week, we'll post a fresh tropics forecast for the week ahead.