An area of disturbed weather over the western Caribbean, designated 95L by the National Hurricane Center on Friday morning, was bringing heavy rains to Cuba, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands. This system had grown much more organized since Thursday, and it is likely to become Tropical Storm Zeta by early next week. A NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate 95L on Saturday afternoon.
Satellite imagery on Friday afternoon showed a steady increase in the intensity and areal coverage of 95L’s heavy thunderstorms, and it appeared to be developing a surface circulation near the Cayman Islands. The system was developing low-level spiral bands, and had excellent upper-level outflow to the north. Conditions favored development, with wind shear a moderate 5-15 knots, sea surface temperatures a very warm 29.5 Celsius (85°F), and a moist atmosphere (a mid-level relative humidity near 75%).
Forecast for 95L
Steering currents are weak in the western Caribbean, and 95L is expected to move slowly northwest or north at less than 5 mph through Sunday. When 95L pushes north of Cuba, a more rapid motion at 10 mph or higher to the north is likely. There is high uncertainty on where 95L might end up: it could push into the Gulf of Mexico, or wind up over the Bahamas, to the east of Florida.
Conditions are predicted to remain favorable for development through Monday, with wind shear a moderate 10-20 knots, sea surface temperatures a very warm 29.5 Celsius (85°F), and plenty of moisture (a mid-level relative humidity of 70-75%). There was modest support for development of 95L from the Friday morning runs of the GFS and European models and their ensembles, showing 95L could become a tropical depression or weak tropical storm by Sunday in the western Caribbean.
Regardless of whether a tropical cyclone forms, heavy rains of 2-5 inches from this system will affect Cuba, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, South Florida, the northeast Yucatan Peninsula, and Jamaica through Monday. In a 2 p.m. EDT Friday tropical weather outlook, NHC gave the system two-day and five-day odds of development of 70%. The next name on the Atlantic list of storms is the sixth letter in the Greek alphabet, Zeta.
Hurricane Epsilon recurving out to sea
Hurricane Epsilon brushed the island of Bermuda overnight, passing about 190 miles to the east of the island. Winds gusted near tropical storm-force at the Bermuda airport, with a peak wind gust of 38 mph. Rainfall amounts on the island were less than an inch.
At 11 a.m. EDT Friday, Epsilon was a category 1 hurricane with top sustained winds of 85 mph and a central pressure of 968 mb, headed north at 10 mph. A large storm, Epsilon had tropical storm-force winds that extended up to 255 miles to the north of the center, with a wind field that will expand as Epsilon heads to the north. The large wind field is generating large swells, which will be affecting the U.S. East Coast, Atlantic Canada, and the north-facing shores of the Caribbean islands through this weekend.
Moderate wind shear of 10-20 knots will combine with sea surface temperatures (SSTs) along Epsilon’s path that will fall from 25.5 Celsius (78°F) on Friday to 24 Celsius (75°F) on Saturday, likely keeping Epsilon at a steady intensity, or cause a slow weakening. Epsilon is expected to recurve on Saturday to the northeast. On Sunday, it may pass close and bring rains of 1-2 inches and wind gusts near tropical storm-force to the southeastern portion of Newfoundland, Canada.
Epsilon will merge with a trough of low pressure to its north on Sunday and transition to a very powerful extratropical storm. Its central pressure on Tuesday, October 27, when it will be a few hundred miles south of Iceland, could be between 931-941 mb, according to the 0Z Friday runs of the GFS and European models.
Posted on October 23, 2020(1:15pm EDT).