Hurricane

Hurricane forecasters watching front for signs of development off Southeast coast

National Hurricane Center forecasters are watching for a low pressure system to form Wednesday off the Carolina coast that could become a tropical depression or storm as it moves east, away from the U.S.
National Hurricane Center forecasters are watching for a low pressure system to form Wednesday off the Carolina coast that could become a tropical depression or storm as it moves east, away from the U.S.

National Hurricane Center forecasters are keeping an eye on a cold front stalled along the southeast that could blossom into a tropical system as it moves offshore.

Computer models suggest conditions could help fuel a system, but forecasters kept chances for a storm over the next five days low at just 20 percent, said hurricane center spokesman Dennis Feltgen. Having a low pressure system appear on an old frontal boundary over land is not the typical course for Atlantic hurricanes, but it's also not unusual, he said.

"One of the most common things we’ll see in our part of the world is a front makes it all the way through Florida in May or June and then we'll see a low pressure that forms on the bottom in the Caribbean," he said. "We've seen lows form on old frontal boundaries in the Gulf of Mexico and sometimes they’ll detach themselves from the front and take on tropical characteristics."

Forecasters expect the low to form on the Carolina coast Wednesday and encounter more favorable conditions as it moves east. It's too soon to tell if the U.S. coast will get hit with any winds or rain from the system, Feltgen said.

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If a system were to form, it would be named Beryl, the second-named storm of the 2018 Atlantic season. Alberto set the stage for an early start when it appeared in May and crossed the Gulf as a subtropical system with top winds of 65 mph. It eventually slowed to a weak tropical storm before making landfall in the Panhandle.

For the season, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters have predicted an above average number of storms, with 10 to 16 named storms, five to nine hurricanes and one to four major storms with winds above 130 mph.

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center

While they factored in the effects of a warm weather El Niño pattern forming in the Pacific when they made the forecast in May, an El Niño shaping up in the Pacific could change the forecast. But forecasters say making such forecasts in spring can be tricky because weather patterns can be transitioning. In an update earlier this month, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center projected the arrival of an El Niño in early fall, which could help cut short what is typically the peak of the Atlantic season.

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