A LOW pressure area between the Bahamas and Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean is highly likely to develop into a tropical or sub-tropical cyclone which could impact part of the East Coast of the United States during Memorial Day weekend according to the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami.
Forecasters said on Thursday night that thunderstorm and showers activity has been increasing and become more organised during the past 24 hours and that environmental conditions are expected to become more conducive to formation later on Friday or Saturday while the system moves west-northwestward or northwestward toward the southeastern United States coast. A US Air Force reconnaissance plane is scheduled to investigate further on Friday afternoon.
The chances of development into a cyclone over the next 48 hours is high at 90 per cent, the NHC said.
Beach, fishing and cruise interests along the southern Atlantic Seaboard have been advised to monitor the track and strength of the system.
“We expect the system to track slowly toward the northwest through the weekend and end up near the South Carolina or North Carolina coast by Memorial Day,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
He said that winds aloft have strengthened near the disturbed area and that the strong upper-level winds and marginally warm water would allow only slow to no development in the short term.
“As the system moves away from the strong winds aloft and toward warmer waters of the Gulf Stream, strengthening and organisation into a tropical or sub-tropical (hybrid) system could occur,” Mr Kottlowski said.
The present system will have an effect on coastal areas, especially from northeastern Florida to North Carolina beginning this weekend even if it remains offshore.
The latter part of this week and first part of the holiday weekend will bring the best weather for bathing, sunbathing and boating along the southeastern US Atlantic beaches, forecasters said. As the weekend progresses, a breeze will develop and waves will build. The increasing wave action will cause the number and strength of rip currents to increase.
“How rough conditions get will depend on how strong the system becomes and how close to the coast it gets,” Mr Kottlowski said. In addition, showers and thunderstorms will develop over the southeastern US as the holiday weekend progresses and into next week.
Should a tropical system develop, it would be named Bonnie, since Alex was the first official tropical storm and hurricane of 2016. Alex formed over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on January 13, became a hurricane the next day and dissipated. Alex was the first January hurricane to occur in the Atlantic since 1955.
Forecasters are predicting an active 2016 storm season in the Atlantic region, with as many as eight hurricanes forming, of which three are projected to be major storms.
Experts suggest that this year’s season - which starts officially on June 1 - would be above average, with the most active forecast since the 2012 storm season.
National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) director Captain Stephen Russell told The Tribune last week he endorsed forecasts published by a number of international meteorology institutions.
The NHC is predicting 12 to 14 named storms, of which eight are expected to intensify to hurricane strength, with three becoming major storms – category three or higher. Accuweather predict a similar season, with 14 predicted storms, eight potential hurricanes and four major storms.