October 18, 2023 Outlook: Another tropical system is likely to form and threaten the Lesser Antilles

One-sentence summary

We’re nearing the end of the Atlantic hurricane season, but we need to continue tracking Invest 94L as it is likely to track across or near the northern end of the Lesser Antilles this weekend, including the islands Antigua and Barbuda.

Happening now: Invest 94L

There is precisely one system we need concern ourselves with in the Atlantic, and that is an area of low pressure that is approaching the Caribbean Sea. It continues to lack a center of rotation, but the system is starting to get its act together. The National Hurricane Center projects that it has an 80 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm over the next week. Even if it does not the tropical system will bring heavy rains to parts of the Lesser Antilles this weekend.

Hello Invest 94L. (National Hurricane Center)

By the way, what do we mean when we say the Lesser Antilles? It can be a little confusing, both for readers and forecasters. So let’s spend a moment walking through it. We’ll start with the Greater Antilles, which are the larger Caribbean islandsCuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and Puerto Rico—that mark the northern boundary of the Caribbean Sea. As this arc of islands extends further eastward and to the south, the islands get smaller, places like Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

These islands stretch almost all the way south to South America, and form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea. These are the “Lesser” Antilles since they’re smaller islands. To make things even more confusing, the islands of the Lesser Antilles are divided into three groups: the Windward Islands in the south, the Leeward Islands in the north, and the Leeward Antilles in the west. So Invest 94L is threatening the Leeward Islands, which are part of the Lesser Antilles. Still with me? Good. There will be a quiz at the end.

A map of the Caribbean Islands. (University of Minnesota)

The good news for the Leeward Islands is that if 94L organizes into a stronger system it is likely to turn to the northwest before reaching land. If it remains weaker, then it could follow a more westerly track into the islands, bringing some winds, high seas, and rains, but nothing too crazy. We’ll fine tune the forecast in a day or two.

What else is out there?

Not much in the Atlantic Ocean.

After 94L does whatever it does, the only other watch area over the next 10 days or so will be in the southern or southeastern Caribbean Sea, where we may see a home-grown storm develop. But that is only a vague threat at this point. And as we approach the end of October, we can generally expect to see the Atlantic tropics winding down for the year.

Here’s the quiz: Anyone got any problems with that?

11 thoughts on “October 18, 2023 Outlook: Another tropical system is likely to form and threaten the Lesser Antilles”

  1. Thanks for the geography lesson. I always think about looking at it but then never remember. When you said there would be a quiz, I actually went back and reread it…. lol

    Love your posts and have referred your website to many of my Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana friends and they have all found them very helpful. Keep up the great work.

  2. Appreciate the geography info, but you left out the answer to one interesting question – why the Windward and Leeward islands have those names.

  3. Thanks so much for the explanation of the islands. Much appreciated!

    And, thanks for all the updates regarding hurricanes, etc.

    Much appreciated!

  4. Any thoughts on tropical storm Norma? Trying to decide if I should cancel vacation to Cabo. Not sure if they are hyping it up or it is a real threat.

  5. Wow! I’ve occasionally tried to grasp the location of the “Greaters” and the “Lessers” and the “Leewards” and the “Windwards” based on sailing terms but always ending up shrugging 🤷‍♀️. I think I can win a trivia question with this geography lesson. Thanks!

  6. As a resident of a northern Leeward Island I thank you for your forecast and enjoyed the geography lesson.

    To make things even more confusing, one of our political parties here is the “Windward Islands People’s Movement”. I have no idea.

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