Tropical Storm Epsilon is slowly intensifying in the central Atlantic as it heads north-northwest toward Bermuda, which is under a tropical storm watch. The western fringes of Epsilon are predicted to affect Bermuda on Friday, when it is expected to be a category 1 hurricane. Epsilon is not a landfall threat for the U.S., but could threaten Newfoundland, Canada, early next week. The Air Force Hurricane Hunters’ first mission into Epsilon is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
At 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, October 20, Epsilon’s winds had increased to 50 mph, but the storm was fighting some dry air that moderate wind shear of 10 – 15 knots was injecting into its core. Satellite images showed Epsilon as a large storm, with tropical storm-force winds extended up to 300 miles to the north of the center.
Forecast for Epsilon
Light to moderate wind shear of 5 – 15 knots will favor development of Epsilon through Friday. However, the system will be embedded in a dry atmosphere with a mid-level relative humidity of 45%, which will slow its development. Epsilon will be over warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) near 27.5 Celsius (82°F) on Tuesday, but SSTs will cool to about 26 degrees Celsius (79°F) by Friday, providing less favorable conditions. In total, these conditions suggest that Epsilon will likely intensify into a category 1 hurricane by Thursday, with category 2 hurricane strength unlikely. The 12Z Tuesday run of the SHIPS model gave Epsilon a 15% chance of becoming a category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds by Thursday.
Epsilon will move to the north-northwest or northwest at nearly 10 mph through Friday, with the steering influence of a ridge of high pressure to its northeast. This track should bring Epsilon about 200 miles east of Bermuda on Friday. As of the 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday NHC forecast, the island was just outside the western edge of the cone of uncertainty; NHC gave the island a 30 – 40% chance of experiencing tropical storm-force winds of 39 mph or higher. On Friday and Saturday, Epsilon is expected to recurve to the north and then northeast, and it may pass close to Newfoundland, Canada, early next week.
An eye on the western Caribbean this week
A broad area of low pressure over the western Caribbean with a large circulation, centered near the northeast Yucatan Peninsula, was bringing disorganized heavy rain showers to Cuba, Jamaica, the Yucatan Peninsula, and South Florida on Tuesday afternoon.
This system had little support for development from the Tuesday morning runs of the top three models for predicting tropical cyclone genesis. In the 6Z Tuesday run of the GFS ensemble model, about 15% of 31 forecast members predicted development of a tropical storm in the western Caribbean by early next week; just one of 51 members of the 0Z Tuesday European model ensemble did so. Any storm that does form in the region would likely move slowly west-northwest or northwest, potentially bringing heavy rains to Cuba and/or Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. In an 8 a.m. EDT Tuesday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave two-day and five-day odds of development of 10% to this system.
Posted on October 20, 2020(12:19pm EDT).