Hurricane Hermine, forming in the Caribbean, may enter the Gulf of Mexico

After a quiet start to the hurricane season, the Atlantic has reawakened, filled with storms and systems — and at least one could pose a serious threat to the United States.

There is great concern over a rain cluster north of Venezuela named “Invest 98L,” which has swept through the Windward Islands with strong winds and heavy rainfall. It will remain tame until the weekend when a powder keg is ready to move into the atmosphere.

Next week, it may enter the Gulf of Mexico, although its exact path is still uncertain. Assuming it develops into at least a tropical storm, it will be named Hermine. The National Hurricane Center gives a 90 percent chance of doing so.

For now, anyone living along the Gulf Coast and Florida should exercise caution as the forecast develops over the coming days.

Fiona will hit parts of Canada, making it the region’s strongest storm on record

Currently, it is poorly organized. This is due to turbulent shear, or a change in wind speed and/or direction with height, to combat it. As atmospheric drag is put into play, more shear will strike a new storm. That cut originates from the high outlet or outflow of Fiona to the northeast.

Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico on September 18, leaving residents without power, water and safe shelter. Residents of Ponce and Salinas shared their stories. (Video: Joanne Murphy, John Farrell, Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post)

Invest 98L will move westward in the coming days, and the cutoff will remain until Sunday. Things will escalate a lot Soon Sunday evening to Monday.

That’s when the 98L moves over some of the warmest water in the Atlantic Ocean. The northwest Caribbean Sea is saturated with thermal energy in oceanic waters such as heat or bath, which facilitates rapid consolidation and strengthening of new storms.

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At the same time, 98L — by then possibly the named storm — will move under an upper-level high pressure system. This will work in favor of the 98L in two ways:

  • Difference. High pressure means the air is separating. The difference in the upper atmosphere has a vacuum-like effect, creating a vacuum that makes it easier for surface air to rise. This development of thunderstorms will accelerate how quickly the warm, moist “core” rushes into the storm.
  • Discharge. Maximum rotates clockwise. It is the exit direction of tropical cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere. That high pressure works with the 98L to expel the “spent” air at higher altitudes from the storm, allowing it to ingest more juice-rich air from below. Imagine placing a suction fan at the top of the chimney. Air is drawn up and out, meaning more air rushes in from below and the fire grows at the base. This storm will do just that.

A very strong storm is possible somewhere in the northwestern Caribbean on Monday. At that point it will intensify rapidly.

However, it can be tracked anywhere from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to central Cuba. But the storm could slip between those areas, entering the Gulf of Mexico on Monday or Tuesday.

There are only two escape routes to avoid Storm Bay. If it weakens, it is likely to continue westward in the Caribbean toward Central America. If it strengthens quickly, it will turn north of central Cuba and roll toward the Atlantic. But a minority of model simulations present these outliers.

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Check out Hurricane Fiona’s surf footage from the crest of a 50-foot wave

Most model simulations predict the system will end up in the Gulf — while nuances in atmospheric steering currents will determine where the storm eventually makes landfall.

A little bit of good news is that if the storm makes landfall in the northern or western Gulf of Mexico, dry air from the north It can be weakened a bit. However, that’s not much comfort when the entire Gulf region is running warmer than average during the most active time of year for hurricanes.

If the storm moves further east, it may avoid such dry air. Any potential path near Florida would be a concern.

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