..GONZALO CONTINUES WESTWARD...
...HURRICANE WATCH ISSUED FOR ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES...
At 1100 AM AST (1500 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Gonzalo was located near latitude 9.6 North, longitude 48.3 West. Gonzalo is moving toward the west near 14 mph (22 km/h). A westward to west-northwestward motion with an increase in forward speed is expected through the weekend. On the forecast track, the center of Gonzalo will approach the southern Windward Islands Friday night and move across the islands Saturday and Saturday evening.
Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher gusts. Some strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days, and Gonzalo could become a hurricane tonight or on Friday.
Gonzalo is a small storm, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 km) from the center.
The estimated minimum central pressure is 997 mb (29.44 inches).
WIND: Hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area by Saturday afternoon, with tropical storm conditions possible by midday Saturday.
RAINFALL: Gonzalo is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 2 to 5 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 7 inches in Barbados and the Windward Islands from Friday night through Sunday night. Gonzalo is also expected to produce total rain accumulations of 1 to 2 inches in Trinidad and Tobago. Rainfall in Barbados and the Windward Islands could lead to life-threatening flash floods.
Crown Weather;Gonzalo Much More Disorganized Today, But Is Still Expected To Bring Tropical Storm & Possibly Hurricane Conditions To Barbados & The Southern Lesser Antilles On Saturday
I honestly didn’t expect Gonzalo to be this disorganized today. Very small systems like this are extremely difficult to forecast as they can not only strengthen very rapidly, but they can also weaken just as quickly.
Based on satellite imagery, it looks like the center of Gonzalo is not located where the deepest thunderstorm activity & now it seems the thunderstorm activity may be pulsing up & down, rather than being sustained like it was yesterday. Why did Gonzalo fall apart so quickly this morning? Best that I can tell, it looks like when Gonzalo began to really strengthen yesterday, it’s circulation began to increase in overall area. This allowed the dry air that was just outside of the protective moist bubble Gonzalo was in to invade the system. This led to the mid-level circulation becoming separated from the low-level circulation. So, in the end, Gonzalo now needs to start over in the building process & honestly it may never do so.
The track forecast of Gonzalo is the “easy” part of the forecast as a general westward course looks likely over the next few days. This will bring the center of Gonzalo across the southern Lesser Antilles during the day on Saturday with a track into the eastern and central Caribbean expected by late this weekend and early next week.
As for the intensity forecast of Gonzalo – Needless to say, it is an incredibly difficult forecast, especially considering with how quickly the storm became disorganized this morning. Even though Gonzalo is in an environment that consists of low wind shear and very warm ocean water temperatures, the overall atmospheric humidity levels are quite dry. This dry air, as I already mentioned, is affecting the storm & small systems like this can easily weaken and fall apart in an unfavorable environment like this. This is what the global models such as the European and UKMET models are showing.
One Final Thought – It is clear to me that Gonzalo “over performed” given the overall unfavorable background state of the atmosphere right now in the Tropical Atlantic. There is a large amount of dry, sinking air in place across the central and eastern Atlantic & a system forming in this type of environment is worrisome for later on in the season.
A tropical cyclone forming in the Main Development Region of the Tropical Atlantic during July is a huge red flag & it’s not a good sign at all. This says to me that we are well on our way to a very busy to hyperactive rest of the hurricane season.