Tropical System Has Forecasters Eyeing Possible U.S. Threat

  • System threatening to grow into Tropical Storm Joaquin
  • Storm would be 10th of the Atlantic hurricane season

Meteorologists are watching Tropical Depression 11 amid warnings by several computer forecast models that it could menace the U.S. East Coast later this week.

The system was 465 miles (745 kilometers) southwest of Bermuda as of 5 p.m. East Coast time, with maximum sustained winds of 35 miles per hour, below the 39-mph threshold needed to be declared a tropical storm, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. It could reach that strength by Tuesday, the center said.

“Though the storm currently looks unimpressive, we can’t dismiss the possibility that atmospheric conditions could fall in place to allow it to become a tropical storm or hurricane that would threaten the U.S. East Coast late this week,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The system would get the name Joaquin if it becomes the 10th storm of the six-month Atlantic hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30. Regardless of its development, the system will add to heavy rains that are forecast to spread over the East Coast, including New York, this week.

Sandy Memories

Forecasters are particularly leery of this system because some computer models began to call for it to brush the East Coast, raising memories of super storm Sandy’s strike on the New Jersey shore in October 2012.

The U.S. Global Forecast System didn’t call for the depression to grow. However, the midday outlook of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts held out the possibility it would become much more powerful, Masters said.

The hurricane center said it has “low confidence” in track and strength forecasts.

“We still think that the most likely scenario is a hybrid storm that moves into the mid-Atlantic coast and not a major hurricane,” said Tom Downs, a meteorologist with WeatherBell Analytics LLC in New York.

It’s important to remember that a lot can change in the days ahead, said Andy Mussoline, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

Eastern Rain

The model runs “caught our eye this afternoon,” Mussoline said. The consensus still has the storm traveling parallel to the East Coast.

“One way or the other, the moisture from this storm is going to get to the East Coast,” Mussoline said.

In the Pacific, Hurricane Marty, with top winds of 80 mph, prompted a hurricane warning for the Mexican coast from Tecpan de Galeana to Lazaro Cardenas, the center said. The storm was about 75 miles south-southwest of Zihuatanejo, Mexico, moving northeast at 6 mph with 80 mph winds.

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