Caribbean disturbance 94L may develop early next week
An area of disturbed weather (Invest 94L) has developed in the southern Caribbean off the coast of Colombia, and has the potential to develop into a tropical depression early next week. Satellite images show that 94L has a limited amount of heavy thunderstorms, but the activity is showing signs of organization, with several curved bands developing on the west side of 94L's center. Water vapor satellite images show a large amount of dry air lies to the north over the northern Caribbean, and this dry air may slow down development to a small degree. SSTs are warm, 29°C, and wind shear as analyzed by the University of Wisconsin CIMSS group is a moderate 10 - 15 knots.
Figure 1. Afternoon satellite image of 94L.
Forecast for 94L
The latest SHIPS model forecast predicts that wind shear will remain in the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, through Sunday, then rise to the high range, 20 - 30 knots, Monday through Wednesday next week. The modest shear, warm SSTs, and relatively moist atmosphere should allow for some slow organization of 94L as it moves slowly westwards at 5 mph over the next two days. The models predict that the steering currents in the southern Caribbean will keep 94L moving generally westwards at about 5 mph for the next five days, which would bring the storm ashore over Nicaragua or northeast Honduras on Wednesday. Both the GFS and NOGAPS models show some modest development of 94L, and NHC is giving the system a 30% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday. The Hurricane Hunters are on call to investigate 94L on Monday afternoon. At this time, it appears that 94L will only be a concern for Central America. I give 94L a 50% chance of eventually becoming Tropical Storm Virginie.
I'll have an update Saturday by 1pm EDT.