Storm Center 7

Tracking the Tropics: Tropical Storm ‘Fiona’ could reach Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands soon

While we are just past the peak of hurricane season, this is still generally the most active time of year, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Robert Gauthreaux.

The good news is that we’re only up to the letter “F” on the list of named storms, so the season has not been very active.

While “Fiona” isn’t a hippo of a storm yet, she has the potential to be, but there are a few obstacles the storm will have to confront.

First, it should be said that this moment, she is not expected to impact the continental United States. It’s a different story however for U.S. interest in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as the storm is expected to make landfall as a moderately-strong tropical storm with sustained wind speeds below 74mph.

Of course, with the mountainous terrain of Puerto Rico, and especially Hispaniola, the friction as it crosses land will also likely keep the storm below hurricane strength.

Other atmospheric conditions to consider are wind speed and dry air in the upper levels of the atmosphere. Currently, the storm is battling some strong wind in the western Atlantic.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Tracking the Tropics: Tropics starting to heat up as we reach peak hurricane season

You can almost think of it as literally “shearing” the top off a storm so it doesn’t have a good opportunity to grow vertically. It also suppresses development by displacing heat and moisture away from the storm’s center.

Dry air at the mid-levels of the atmosphere too are sometimes known as the “kiss-of-death” for tropical systems because it introduces evaporation (a cooling process) into the warm core of the storm. Hurricanes by nature are “warm” storms compared to the “cold-core” midlatitude or “extratropical” cyclones which bring us cold air and snow and the like.

Currently, the National Hurricane Center in Miami forecasts the storm will move across the Virgin Islands Saturday morning, impact Puerto Rico Sunday and Hispaniola Monday before approaching The Bahamas midweek as it turns more toward the north.

Currently models tend to take it back out in the Atlantic without making landfall in the United States. Because it is several weeks out, we’ll have to watch if these steering patterns hold true and keep it from coming any farther west.

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