August 14, 2023 Outlook: Peak season may launch with a soft opening this week

We have a lengthier post than usual today to catch you up on the doings of the Atlantic, which may be opening its doors to business this week. We’ll call it a soft opening for now. Just a reminder that you can subscribe and get these posts in your inbox, by signing up for email updates to the right (on desktop) or at the bottom (on mobile).

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One-sentence summary

Hurricane season should pick up some later this week, with one or possibly two systems potentially trying to develop in the eastern Atlantic.

Happening now: Peak season begins this week. Maybe.

The tropics look to remain quiet the next couple days at least, but as waves begin to emerge off Africa this week, we’ll watch the late week period for the potential of some development. If we look at the satellite imagery over Africa this morning, we can see the beginnings of this burst of activity.

Bright colors indicate thunderstorm activity, and there’s a lot of that over the western portions of Africa this morning. (

From this morass, we expect about two primary disturbances to show themselves. Both the GFS & European models are now in decent agreement on that for day 5.

You can click to enlarge this image showing where two disturbances should emerge by the end of this week off Africa. (Tropical Tidbits)

The eastern Atlantic seems to be the most likely area for development to occur at the tail end of the near-term period, and it would likely be one or two waves that could do it. That being said, there is going to be a lot of “noise” out there with this stuff. You really need these disturbances to break out of this noise to have a good shot at developing; destructive interference can be a thing. The National Hurricane Center currently has odds of 30 and 20 percent for these disturbances to develop in the next 5 to 7 days.

The NHC has 30% odds of development for the main disturbance expected to emerge off Africa later this week, a fair starting point at this time. (NOAA NHC)

I would say the odds of one system developing is probably above 50 percent right now. The odds of two systems developing is probably 20 percent or less. Either way, we at least know where to watch this week. We’ll talk about the future of these waves below.

Elsewhere, the European model is slightly bullish on a third piece of activity that makes it close to the Lesser Antilles later this week. I would say the odds of that area becoming something are extremely low right now, so we’ll leave it at that. There is another tropical wave that should make it across the Caribbean or end up near the Bahamas later this week as well, but that will not develop this week. More on that one below.

The medium range (days 6 to 10): An in-depth look at what will drive the bus in the Atlantic

So, with so much noise heading into the period and two dominant features in the eastern Atlantic to focus on, let’s check up on three things to see how this might go: Steering currents, dust/dry air, and wind shear.

Steering currents

Where will these systems go? Beginning later this week, high pressure over the central Atlantic will begin to weaken. By Sunday (day 7), we have a map up at 20,000 feet in the atmosphere that looks like this:

On Sunday, day 7, with high pressure near the African coast and another high over the U.S., it seems plausible that any disturbances in the Atlantic would be likely to gain latitude and turn out to sea rather quickly heading into next week. (Tropical Tidbits)

High pressure has reformed itself by then, somewhere south of the Azores or near the coast of Africa. What does this mean? Well, at first, given the weaker high pressure, we’ll probably see any system(s) in the eastern Atlantic turn to the northwest fairly quickly, particularly if they form quickly. As that happens and the high re-strengthens, that system or those systems will probably get pushed back to the west some. The good news is that it does not appear (for now at least) that the high pressure area will build west as the potential system(s) comes west. This should keep the exit door open to the northwest and north in the Atlantic. The vast majority of ensemble data suggests this to be the case as well. Ensembles give us 30 to 50 runs of the same model with tweaks, so we get a realistic “spread” of options, and in this case, almost all take it out of the way.

The European ensemble, which has been the most aggressive (read: too aggressive) developing things this hurricane season is probably overaggressive here too, but it gives you a sense of a.) what we’re watching and b.) why we feel good about any system turning out to sea. (

The ensemble here is saying to us “Hey, you’ve got a tropical wave here that has a shot at developing, but it will probably turn northwest before it really gets to impact any land.” We expect that it will turn north right now, but we are not sure exactly when. Obviously we will watch this closely, but for now at least, we think this will turn northwest.

Dry air and dust

There is an awful lot of dry air and dust in the Atlantic — right now.

Widespread dry air and dust (which tropical storms do not like) dominates the central Atlantic, but conditions are less hostile immediately off the African coast right now. (Univ of Wisconsin SSEC)

But notice how it relents some near Africa. Initially, dry air probably won’t be a huge obstacle to overcome. But, if you trust modeling, the dry air is going to be a feature, not a bug.

Dry air is not going away completely, which means that any developing systems will have to deal with this in some capacity as they move west or northwest. This probably “caps” intensity of any system(s) a bit. (Tropical Tidbits)

Above, you see a map of mid-level atmospheric moisture on day 8, next Monday. If we box in the area where disturbances *might* be, and then we delineate dry air from moist air, you can see that there’s definitely dry air back in the vicinity of where this system or these systems may be. Tropical storms do not like dry air. It inhibits their growth and development. Assuming dry air is nearby, then you may have a situation where there is a “cap” on how strong these systems can get.


Another reason to potentially keep a lid on the ceiling for whatever forms is wind shear.

Wind shear looks moderate north of about 20° latitude, so it seems likely that any system is going to either a.) have to fend off some shear early on or b.) eventually encounter it if it comes west, which will also act to keep development odds in check a bit. (Tropical Tidbits)

The wind shear anomalies shown above for the medium range period are less than optimal for tropical storms to develop and strengthen. Wind shear is when winds move in varying directions with height, something that’s not great for hurricanes. The less wind shear, the more hospitable the environment is for tropical systems to grow. For now, this is an okay looking map if you’re rooting against storms.

As always, there are exceptions to the rules, but I think when you look at the sum of the parts right now, between shear, dry air, and the steering pattern, we are not in terrible shape in the Atlantic basin, despite the noise from modeling over the next 10 days.


Aside from all this, we will have to wait and see if there is any consistency from models on the potential that the lead wave today can manage just enough to survive into the Gulf and then develop, something operational models show to some (modest) extent.

There should be a tropical wave in the Gulf next week (this map from the European model on Monday shows it just south of Louisiana), but odds of development are low to very low at this time. (Tropical Tidbits)

The upper pattern may support the Gulf being open for the Mexico or Texas coast next week, with high pressure centered over Missouri, farther north than it has been most of summer. The question as always is can we do anything with it? We’ll discuss that more through the week.

Fantasyland (beyond day 10): Active pattern may continue

As of right now, there are no specific concerns in the Atlantic heading out into the longer range. I do believe the pattern will remain fairly active, but the question will be whether or not the hurdles of shear and dry air will be low enough for storms to overcome. We’ll have to wait and see.

August 11, 2023 Outlook: Taking a deeper dive into potential Atlantic development next week

One-sentence summary

The near-term remains quiet, while the Atlantic looks to pick up the pace next week but no serious land threats are seen at this point.

Happening now: Bahamas wave remains the only thing on the board this weekend & remains unlikely to develop

We head into the second weekend of August with a clean plate! We’ll take it. It’s quiet for the next few days. We continue to mic check the wave in the Bahamas that’s heading toward Florida now. It remains very disheveled this morning.

The tropical wave in the Bahamas remains relatively active this morning, but there are zero hints of organization to it and none are expected. (

Over the next 5 to 7 days, what’s left of this wave is actually likely to traverse the southern Gulf but seems likely to fall apart before bringing some needed moisture to drought plagued Texas and northern Mexico.

With development not expected from that, we could look out into the deep Atlantic, but there are no signs of development there over the next 4 or 5 days either.

The medium range (days 6 to 10): Atlantic action Jackson!

Well, let’s see how this goes. Modeling continues to insist that one or several waves off Africa next week will develop as they come west. As best I can tell, the Euro is picking up on potentially three waves, none of which are expected to rapidly organize.

There’s still a good deal of uncertainty from modeling, but in general, there are at least 2 or 3 tropical waves that have the potential to slowly develop. (

Let’s keep in mind that the European ensemble (the 50+ runs of the Euro model with various tweaks) has been rather aggressive in developing tropical waves in the main development region of the Atlantic this year. So this may be a bit overconfident. But I just want to give you an idea of what we’re watching next week.

Alright, so let’s say the Euro is correct here and we have, call it 2 or 3 tropical waves that could develop. What does this model think of the pattern and conditions of the Atlantic next week? We’ll start with a look at humidity. Dry air acts to inhibit tropical development. Tropical systems like moisture, not dry air. Looking at the mid-levels of the atmosphere, we can actually see the Atlantic has a fair bit of dry air present. That’s a caution flag to me.

Dry air in the mid-levels of the atmosphere to the north of the tropical waves may act to keep development slow and sluggish. (Tropical Tidbits)

If we look up around 20,000 feet, which we refer to as the 500 millibar (mb) level, we can get a good sense of what will be “guiding” any tropical systems next week. It would seem that high pressure over the open Atlantic will establish between Bermuda and the Azores. This may mean two things. First, it’s entirely possible that at some point that’s enough to force any quicker developing tropical systems to turn north quicker.

The forecast map for next Wednesday shows that high pressure will be anchored in the central Atlantic, with most tropical waves track west to west-northwest on the southern periphery. Anything that develops as soon as it hits the ocean off Africa would likely turn north into the “weakness” near the Azores. (Tropical Tidbits)

Over time next week, that high may actually nudge farther east, as high pressure reasserts itself over the United States. What this could do is open the exit door for escape of any tropical waves, ideally before they get to the Caribbean islands.

A gap in between two high pressure systems late next week or weekend might allow for a higher likelihood that any tropical systems turn north faster as they come west, ideally avoiding land. (Tropical Tidbits)

So, yes, we expect that tropical waves have a chance at developing next week, but we also think that the upper level steering pattern and mid-level dry air will help keep intensity in check and hopefully leave the door open for an early exit out to sea. Keep in mind that we’re talking about a 7 to 10 day forecast here, and a lot can change! But sitting here today, those are our thoughts.

Fantasyland (beyond day 10): Punt

Much like yesterday, I am intentionally punting on the extended range part of the forecast today because there’s too much volatility in the medium-range to even try to make sense of anything beyond day 10. So let’s how next week shakes out first, and then go from there.

NOAA Outlook

Just to cap this post, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued their seasonal forecast update yesterday. It did increase the odds of an active season, but I don’t believe it particularly sheds any new light on things. We knew this season would be a battle between an El Niño event emerging that has historically led to quieter activity and Atlantic and Gulf and Caribbean sea-surface temperatures that are extremely warm, if not record warm. So far, the home team has won, and we hope that continues the rest of the season. But there are some notable things in the background that give seasonal forecasters reasons to be wary, and I think that explains their boosted outlooks this year. Remember to prepare each season as if it will be the one that delivers you a storm, regardless of seasonal outlooks.

August 10, 2023 Outlook: Noise picking up as we head into mid-August, but nothing is of immediate concern

One-sentence summary

A wave near the Bahamas is unlikely to develop over the next few days, but support is growing for some development of a wave emerging off Africa later next week.

Happening now: Bahamas wave unlikely to develop

Things remain quiet in the tropics for the near-term. We do not expect any development from any areas. The most prominent feature continues to be a tropical wave near the Bahamas.

A rather robust disturbance near the Bahamas is not expected to develop in the coming days, but it will bring some rain to the Bahamas and Florida. (

Modeling continues to view this area unfavorably, and no development is expected from it. But since we watch things closely, let’s just talk briefly about why it probably won’t develop.

Wind shear is not the issue, as this wave is embedded in an area of lower shear. But there is a fair bit of dry air around this wave. Yesterday I noted how a surge of mid-level dry air into the Southeast this weekend or early next week would likely eviscerate this wave. That’s still on track.

Dry air on the western flank of the tropical wave in the Bahamas is helping to limit development. This wave should bring scattered storms to the Bahamas and the southeast half of the Florida Peninsula this weekend.

But given the low shear environment, we’re sort of lucky to already have some dry air around the system. Otherwise, I think it would be a potential candidate for development. We’ll continue to watch it into the weekend, just in case. But for now, we feel confident that this will not form.

Elsewhere, things are quiet.

The medium range (days 6 to 10): Model support growing for wave off Africa to develop next week. Maybe.

The next item to watch will be emerging off Africa in the coming days. We are beginning to see some actual model agreement now between the GFS and Euro that suggest a wave or waves will develop later next week. The trouble right now is that there are a lot of disturbances in that part of the world, and it’s tough to really say with any confidence which one it will be that goes, if any do at all! The European ensemble model shows this really well.

Recall, ensemble models are basically when you take the same model and run it 30 (GFS) to 50 (Euro) times with tweaks each time. If you look at the individual ensemble members, you get a more realistic spread of potential outcomes. Indeed, when you look at the European ensemble right now, you can make absolutely zero sense of things. Which wave? When does it develop? Is it multiple waves? What is life?

All we can tell you about the next round of “stuff” emerging off Africa is that modeling thinks something will develop. But good luck pinpointing which wave, when, and where. The Atlantic may be too chaotic for its own good next week. (

As a forecaster, all I can do is look at that and tell you, “Hey, a wave emerging off Africa in 3 to 5 days has a good chance of developing later next week.” That’s where our focus will be in the medium range. Confidence is not terribly high given how the Atlantic has underachieved this season. And quite frankly, this may be telling us that the Atlantic ends up too chaotic for development. That’s very much a possibility as well. We’ll see how this evolves.

Fantasyland (beyond day 10): Who knows?

I’ll be honest with you. Given the uncertainty surrounding next week’s wave off Africa, it doesn’t make sense to tinker much with the “beyond day 10” period. I personally expect this medium-range wave(s) to be the main storyline heading into the longer range, should it develop. Behind that, we’ll continue to watch the African wave train do its thing as we head toward September. You can count on us for sober, level-headed, no hype coverage of all of it in the coming weeks. If you haven’t already, tell your friends or family on the coast from Newfoundland to New Orleans to Nicaragua that we’re here to help folks make sense of hurricane season!

August 9, 2023 Outlook: The wave train continues to roll along in disorganized fashion

One-sentence summary

The near-term is quite quiet, and while there are a couple things to watch beyond the weekend, there’s nothing of any serious concern at the moment.

Happening now: Really nice for August

Things are quiet, and they’re expected to remain so over the next 3 to 5 days, with no areas of any real concern, and nothing rogue on any modeling. If we look at satellite this morning there are at least a couple areas that stand out. Certainly the storms over Missouri are notable. There is storminess off the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic coast, a disturbance north of Hispaniola, and another tropical wave entering the Windward Islands.

There are some areas of showers and storms across the Atlantic, but nothing that shows any hint of organization at this time. (College of DuPage)

None of these areas looks particularly menacing though from a tropical development sense, and we expect the next five days to be storm-free.

The medium range (days 6 to 10): Next candidate for development emerges off Africa

The next period should start with a tropical wave in the Bahamas that will likely scoot toward Florida and the Gulf around day 6 (next Monday or Tuesday). A rather aggressive shot of dry air dropping south into the Southeast should act to really inhibit any development of that wave.

As dry air surges southward across the Southeast U.S., it should act to deflect and probably help dismantle a tropical wave approaching from the Bahamas. (Tropical Tidbits)

My guess is that tropical wave will either be dragged northwest into the coast in between the Bermuda high and the Texas heat dome, or it will get shunted off to the south and west toward Mexico. Or it may just end up getting dismantled. Regardless, no development is expected.

Behind that wave, we should see another one moving into the Antilles without much organization. Behind that wave another one should be emerging off Africa this weekend, and we’ll see where we are at the end of the medium-range period. The Euro ensemble (50+ runs of the same model with various tweaks), as it has been much of summer with main development region (MDR) waves is rather aggressive in developing this as it comes across the Atlantic, reaching about half to two-thirds of the way across by day ten. The operational Euro is emblematic of this, and you can see that on its day 9 forecast it shows modest development just east of the Lesser Antilles. This map shows what we call vorticity at 700 mb, about 10,000 feet up in the atmosphere. Vorticity can tell us where atmospheric disturbances are or how “robust” they are. You’ll periodically hear this referred to as “energy in the upper atmosphere” by some meteorologists.

Anyway, this shows that on day 9 there is one wave gradually approaching the Caribbean islands and another emerging off Africa.

The European model wants to develop (slowly) this tropical wave that approaches the Caribbean at the end of the medium range period, late next week. (Tropical Tidbits)

The Bermuda high is expected to weaken a good deal by days 8 to 10 or so, which might imply the escape hatch out to sea will be open. Still, it’s 10 days out so we have a world of time to watch this evolve, should it even develop at all. As noted, the Euro has had an aggressive history this summer in the MDR, and it has not exactly worked out, so I’m not as confident as that particular model is in development.

Fantasyland (beyond day 10): No signs of anything specific for now

The good news about the fringe forecast period is that there is no real sign of anything specific showing up in modeling that we can point to and say “we might need to watch this.” Maybe, maybe that next wave off Africa has a chance to be the next one to watch. Maybe. You choose your words carefully this time of year, so we’ll keep watching.