Hurricane Gaston weakens to tropical storm in the Atlantic

Regolare Commento Stampare

While Gaston is not expected to impact the continental US, people in Florida and the Bahamas should keep track of a low-pressure system that may spawn into a tropical system over the next five days.

Even if this one breaks up or heads in another direction, the busiest part of the hurricane season is still ahead.

Atmospheric conditions favor rapid strengthening of the storm, which is expected to continue on its west-northwest trajectory for the next three days before turning toward the northwest.

Gaston was moving toward the northwest near 17 miles per hour and this general motion is expected through Friday.

Even some of our most reliable tropical forecast models are at odds with the long-term future of this disturbance. The odds of tropical formation within 5 days is now 80%. It's still fairly disorganized, and is encountering considerable wind shear.

As a weaker cyclone, it's possible that a track further to the south might be expected, either across the southern tip of the peninsula or the Upper Florida Keys, then entering the Gulf of Mexico.

The National Weather Service office in Mobile said early Thursday that computer models are diverging greatly and it remained very uncertain if the northern Gulf Coast will - or will not - be affected. That hurricane's path is expected to continue through Friday, although it is forecast to weaken during the next day or so.

This time of year, tropical waves, also known as African easterly waves, line up over Africa south of the Sahara Desert and emerge into the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center downgraded Gaston back to a tropical storm with 70 mph winds, but the storm is still moving northwest at 17 mph about 1,225 miles west of the Leeward Island. Tropical systems draw heat and strengthen from warm waters.

This scenario could lead to inches of rain, strong winds and potential storm surge depending on the exact track of the storm.

Regardless of development, squalls to tropical storm force were expected over portions of the northern Leeward Islands and the northern United States and British Virgin Islands on Wednesday afternoon.