The Weather Channel: A disturbance in the eastern Atlantic Ocean is expected to develop into a tropical depression by this weekend and could affect parts of the eastern Caribbean early next week.
This elongated area of low pressure – tagged Invest 96L by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) late Wednesday evening – is located more than 1,500 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, moving west-northwestward at about 10 to 15 mph.
Invest 96L isn’t expected to develop over the next couple of days, as it appears to be ingesting some dry air from Africa known as a Saharan Air Layer, as The Weather Company meteorological scientist Dr. Michael Ventrice noted Thursday morning.
Dry, sinking air disrupts tropical systems by suppressing thunderstorms and strengthening downdrafts of thunderstorms that do manage to form, not allowing thunderstorms to persist long enough near a surface low-pressure center to start the process of forming a tropical cyclone.
The NHC’s tropical weather outlook said conditions could become more favorable by this weekend, potentially allowing the system to become a tropical depression while it’s still east of the Lesser Antilles.
The NHC currently gives 96L a high chance (70%) of developing into a tropical depression in the next five days.
However, the outlook noted that environmental conditions are now forecast to become unfavorable for additional development by early next week as the system approaches the Lesser Antilles.
Next Week’s Outlook
Whether a tropical depression, storm or simply a disturbance, this system should arrive in the Lesser Antilles Monday or Tuesday.
Regardless of what it’s called, increased rain showers, possibly heavy, can be expected once the system arrives.
After that, the system’s path will depend on the location and strength of a pair of key features.
In general, the configuration of the Bermuda high and the southward dip of the jet stream over the eastern U.S. forecast late next week by the majority of computer models suggests any system that becomes at least a tropical storm should be steered away from the East Coast, curling north, then northeastward.