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Tropical trouble in the Caribbean looms as Atlantic hurricane season comes to a close


Tropical trouble in the Caribbean looms as Atlantic hurricane season comes to a close


The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season technically comes to a close in two weeks, but parts of the Atlantic Ocean are still churning. A tropical depression or storm may form by the early weekend in the Caribbean Sea – the area forecasters marked as the zone to watch in November.

There are still two names up for grabs on the list – Vince and Whitney.

The largest opportunity to earn a name rests with an area of showers and thunderstorms in the Caribbean Sea just east of Honduras and Nicaragua. This area of disturbed weather became slightly better organized Wednesday night and has a high chance of developing into a tropical depression by Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

If it becomes a tropical depression, the very warm waters it tracks over in the Caribbean may help it strengthen further into a tropical storm.

CNN Weather

Sea surface temperatures are shown across the western Atlantic basin where darker reds indicate higher temperatures.

Regardless of whether the system develops further, its heavy rainfall will drench Jamaica and portions of Cuba and Haiti Thursday night through Saturday, and dangerous flash flooding and mudslides are possible in the most torrential rain.

Portions of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos are also in for a soaking on Saturday as tropical moisture fuels storminess across the area.

The area of interest in the Caribbean has so far been thwarted by a few environmental factors. In order to develop and strengthen, a tropical system needs warm water, low wind shear and plenty of moisture. However, not all of these were in place across the Caribbean Sea this week.

Sea surface temperatures remain plenty warm to support tropical development, but wind shear emerged as a limiting factor. Wind shear can tear a storm’s circulation apart or prevent one from forming altogether.

But once wind shear backs off, it leaves the door wide open for tropical development, and wind shear over the Caribbean eased slightly late Wednesday into Thursday and will remain generally low into the weekend.

Farther north, tropical development is possible but unlikely from an area of thunderstorms off the Southeast coast. This area of stormy weather unloaded torrential rainfall over South Florida on Wednesday.

The more likely scenario is that a non-tropical storm develops and moves up the East Coast over the weekend. In this scenario, rough seas and breezy conditions are possible along the Southeast coast this weekend.

Despite being late in the season, tropical storms and even hurricanes do form in November.

  • Hurricane Nicole strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane before slamming into Florida on November 10, 2022.
  • Iota and Eta both strengthened into powerful Category 4 hurricanes in November of 2020.
  • With sustained winds of 155 mph, Iota was the strongest November storm in the Atlantic since 1999’s Hurricane Lenny, which reached the same intensity.

CNN’s Abigail Holmes contributed to this story.

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