Invest 96-L: High chance of tropical cyclone development in the Atlantic
By Chris Dolce, Weather.com
It's been a very quiet first half of August in the Atlantic basin of the tropics. No tropical depressions or named storms have formed yet this month, largely due to unfavorable upper-level winds and dry air.
August is the first month of a period that runs through September and into early October where we typically look farther east into the Atlantic for development. This is in addition to the typical formation areas that are closer to the United States.
Right now, we have our eyes on an area of interest in the far eastern Atlantic dubbed Invest 96-L. This is a naming convention used by the National Hurricane Center to identify features they are monitoring for potential future development into a tropical depression or a tropical storm. For more details on what an Invest is, click the link below.
(MORE: What is an Invest?)
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has given Invest 96-L a 90 percent chance (high chance) of further development into a tropical depression or tropical storm in the next 48 hours as it tracks west-northwest across the open Atlantic Ocean. In fact, the NHC says a tropical depression could form as soon as Tuesday.
As of Tuesday morning, satellite imagery showed some clusters of showers and thunderstorms becoming better organized in association with Invest 96-L well to the southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. This is being driven by an area of low pressure near the surface of the earth that has a spin to it that is clearly evident on satellite imagery. If showers and thunderstorms can persist in tandem with this spin, then we could see further development into a tropical depression.
At the moment, winds aloft in the area near Invest 96-L are not too strong and the environment is somewhat moist. This is why it's being given a high chance of development at this time.
Is this a reason to be concerned? Since Invest 96-L is well away from any land areas at this time and is expected to move very slowly, we have plenty of time to monitor its progress. As mentioned before, dry air and unfavorable upper winds have dominated the Atlantic so far this month, so we'll see if Invest 96-L can survive the journey to a longitude near the Lesser Antilles in about a week.
Stay tuned to The Weather Channel and check back with weather.com for updates in Invest 96-L.
See photos from the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season:
The month of August is typically active in the Atlantic, averaging about two named storms annually (1851-2014).
It's not very often we go through an entire August without a single active named storm. In fact, the last time it happened was 18 years ago in August 1997. Before that you have to go back to 1961 to find an August with no named storms.
It is perhaps no coincidence that a strong El Nino was in its early stages during August 1997, similar in some ways to what is happening this year. El Nino, a warming of the waters in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, is often associated with increased wind shear over the Atlantic Basin. That can make it difficult for tropical waves emerging from Africa to survive the westward journey across the Atlantic.