The National Hurricane Center (NHC) today gave the disturbance “Invest 94L” an 80% chance of becoming either a tropical or sub-tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours. Throughout the day, the low became much better defined at the surface as wind shear (of 40-60kts) over the system began to decrease. Additionally, despite the extreme wind shear, the low is producing gales to the east and southeast of the center; so if it is classified, it may skip tropical/sub-tropical depression status and go straight to tropical/sub-tropical storm status.
This system is developing in an area very similar to Tropical Storm Alberto did earlier this month. However, this system is much bigger and is in a much more moist environment. Additionally, steering currents around this disturbance are much better defined and so we have a better idea of where this will go if it develops. Currently, it is a sub-tropical low, but again it is attached to those pesky troughs and so it will need to shed them before the NHC makes any classification.
The forecast for 94L is for it to move west and southwest under the steering of building high pressure to its north. This will take it across the warmest waters of the Southwest Atlantic in the Gulf Stream north of the Bahamas. This combined with a fairly moist atmosphere and much lower wind shear should allow strengthening to a strong tropical storm.
After this, 94L is expected to continue westward for a landfall between Charleston, South Carolina, and Daytona Beach, Florida. This could end up being a beneficial event if the storm stays weak as this region is in exceptional drought – some of the worst in the United States and 2-5″ of rain are expected to fall. However, there could be some coastal flooding due to the shape of the coastline and the shallow waters that extend for a large distance away from shore. The strongest winds will be to the right of where the center comes ashore, however, what they will be at is still up for grabs at this time – it may not even develop into a tropical or sub-tropical cyclone!
The NHC has hurricane hunter aircraft reconnaissance scheduled for tomorrow to investigate this system. If 94L becomes a tropical or sub-tropical storm it will be the second named storm; Beryl.