Atlantic Awakening: Where Tropical Development Is Possible Over Labor Day Weekend

  • The Atlantic Basin, dormant for a long time, is finally showing signs of awakening.
  • Several areas are being monitored for possible development.
  • One is in the Caribbean Sea, the other in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean.
  • Although this is the prime time of hurricane season, it’s far from certain that either or both will pose a threat.

Atlantic hurricane season is waking up with multiple areas of possible tropical development that could possibly pose a threat over Labor Day weekend.

It’s been almost two months since we’ve had a tropical storm, and it was one of the calmest starts to the hurricane season in decades. But we are heading into the peak of hurricane season and, just at the right time, activity is infiltrating again.

Here’s what you need to know about each of these areas we monitor, and some roadblocks that could hinder development.

The Caribbean Sea

  • When it might develop: Early or mid next week
  • Where could this be headed and when: Central America, Yucatan Peninsula mid-week
  • After that: Assuming it develops, it could emerge in the western Gulf of Mexico next Friday over Labor Day weekend.

This tropical wave will not do much in the next few days but could regroup in the coming week.

So far, few computer forecasting models suggest strong development, but it’s worth watching given the typical inflow of deep, warm water in its path.


Possible NHC development area

(Possible area(s) of tropical development according to the National Hurricane Center’s latest outlook are represented by polygons, color-coded according to the risk of development over the next five days. An “X” indicates the location of a current disturbance.)

Eastern Atlantic

  • When it might develop: Begining of the next week
  • Where could this be headed and when: Maybe the Lesser Antilles by next Friday

There are clusters of showers and thunderstorms between Africa and the Lesser Antilles at this time.

Computer forecast models suggest an area could develop and head west towards the Leeward or Windward Islands by the end of next week. It is far too early to tell if this could possibly pose a threat to the continental United States.

Another tropical wave could emerge off West Africa next week and develop east of the first system.


Barriers to Development

Despite approaching the height of hurricane season, there are two obstacles that could impede the development of any or all of these focus areas.

The first obstacle is wind shear. Wind shear tears apart systems that are trying to organize, as well as those that have already formed.

Computer forecast models suggest that some wind shear could affect both the Caribbean Sea and areas near the Lesser Antilles. It is not known whether this shear may be sufficient to limit each system.


Wind shear, satellite, NHC development chance

(Areas of cloud are shown in white. Areas of strong wind shear, the difference in wind speed and direction with height, are shown in purple. High wind shear is hostile to mature tropical cyclones and to those trying to develop. Areas of possible development according to the National Hurricane Center’s latest outlook are shown as before.)

The second barrier is dry air, which is a postman which has contributed to a quiet August so far.

As shown in the satellite image below, it is still in place over parts of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean near and east of the Lesser Antilles.

This dry air is likely to curb development in the Caribbean Sea over the next few days and could also put a damper on development in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.


Water vapor satellite, chance of development of the NHC

(Areas of dry air are represented by orange and red in the satellite image. Wetter air is represented by brighter white, purple, blue and green in this image. Areas of possible development according to the National Hurricane Center’s latest outlook are indicated as before.)

For the moment, there is nothing to worry too much about. Check back with us at for updates, as forecasts can change quickly during these peak months of hurricane season.

However, now is a good time to make sure you have a hurricane plan in place. Information on hurricane preparedness can be found here.


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The primary journalistic mission of The Weather Company is to report on the latest weather news, the environment and the importance of science in our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.


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