Chances for tropical development in the Caribbean increasing

With only a few weeks left in the official Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends on Nov. 30, AccuWeather meteorologists are closely monitoring activity across the Caribbean Sea for late-season tropical trouble.

Embedded within a zone of bath-like water in the central and western Caribbean, this region of the Atlantic basin is a common place for late-season tropical development.

"Not only is the surface water warm, 80-degree water temperatures extend to over 150 feet below the surface," AccuWeather Tropical Meteorologist Alex DaSilva said. This can fuel a budding tropical system because cool water does not become churned up to the surface as wave action begins.

This stewing tropical system may also take advantage of another factor needed for tropical development later on this week, weakening wind shear. With weak wind shear in place late this week, clusters of showers and thunderstorms stand a better chance at becoming more consolidated and acquiring a low-level spin.

"Wind shear is very high across the Caribbean currently, but there are signs that wind shear may ease in the region late this week," DaSilva said.

Despite the wind shear, there are already clusters of showers and thunderstorms brewing across the southern Caribbean Sea early this week. Over the next few days, this zone of unsettled weather can continue to fester over the same general area. Tropical development is not expected to occur through midweek, but this feature can still cause troubles for any cruise ships or container ships sailing through the area.

This image of the southwestern Atlantic basin shows the Caribbean Sea. Thunderstorms near Panama (left of center) are not yet showing signs of intensification as of Monday, Nov. 13, but this zone will be an area to watch late this week. (AccuWeather Enhanced RealVue™ Satellite)

Heading into the latter half of this week, interests across the Greater Antilles will want to keep a close eye on this feature for potential development. Regardless of the extent of the development, it looks likely that places like Jamaica, eastern Cuba, Hispaniola, the southern Bahamas and perhaps even as far east as Puerto Rico could be in line for drenching showers and thunderstorms that could produce a risk for flooding.

If development does occur, additional risks including coastal flooding and damaging wind gusts could also be in the offing.

A major factor in the forecast throughout the week will be monitoring just how quickly this potential system could get its act together. "It is possible that development could be delayed later this week as well," AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said. If there is any delay in tropical development, then the system could miss an opportunity to move northward out of the Caribbean ahead of an approaching cold front.

If the northward connection is missed, the potential for a stronger tropical system is possible this weekend, perhaps into early next week. This would allow for additional time for the entity to further take advantage of the warm water and relatively weak wind shear, opening the window for intensification.

If the northward connection is realized late week, tropical moisture would likely ending up surging northward ahead of an advancing cold front. While there are still a lot of forecast factors in play, this may not be the only feature that could end up getting sucked up into a late-week cold front along the East Coast.

A developing rainstorm in the Gulf of Mexico could also become intertwined with this front, adding in additional moisture to the equation. At this point in time, AccuWeather meteorologists are highlighting at least some risk for rain and gusty winds between Friday and Saturday night extending from the coastal Carolinas through New England. Farther north in Atlantic Canada, that risk may be even higher.

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