New: “High” confidence in tropical development in Caribbean later this month

October 21st through 27th has been highlighted as the stretch when development is expected

New: “High” confidence in tropical development in Caribbean later this month
There is "high" confidence in tropical activity in the Caribbean later this month. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - We are just over two weeks from November getting underway, but the tropics are not stopping. With the year we’ve had so far in the Atlantic Basin, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

According to the latest weekly “Global Tropics Hazards and Benefits Outlook” issued by the Climate Prediction Center (CPC), there is “high” confidence in a tropical cyclone forming in the western Caribbean later this month -- namely, October 21-27.

The GFS is just one model that continues to project a tropical system developing in the western Caribbean during the last week of October.
The GFS is just one model that continues to project a tropical system developing in the western Caribbean during the last week of October. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

That same area was already being highlighted in the outlook that was issued back on October 6th, suggesting that forecast models, forecast parameters and climate variables are -- and have been -- in good to great agreement on a tropical cyclone developing.

Not every model is 100% sold on this occurring, but many of them are. Some models even show a robust and intense outcome with a major hurricane forming. This outcome cannot be ruled out at this point despite it seeming rather extreme this far ahead of time.

The CPC’s discussion says, “This TC could be the fourth major hurricane of the Atlantic season given a broadly favorable environment and ample oceanic heat content.”

The Caribbean is still full of heat and energy to fuel tropical system development and strengthening.
The Caribbean is still full of heat and energy to fuel tropical system development and strengthening. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

A look back at the past tells us it’s actually not impossible to get a major hurricane in the Caribbean -- even as we head into the latter half of October.

In fact, all Atlantic Basin major hurricanes to form between October 14th and 27th since 1966 formed in the Caribbean.

But if you’re thinking we went from predicting tropical cyclone development 3-5 days ahead of time to weeks ahead of time, you’re not wrong. The reason why we’re talking about this so far ahead of time is because the degree of confidence is remarkably high.

It’s very rare to be this confident in tropical cyclone development this early on.

In a season in which we’ve already dealt with 25 named storms, 9 hurricanes, 3 major hurricanes, and 10 United States landfalls this is probably the last thing anyone wants to hear.

Should a tropical system develop in the western Caribbean later this month, it will have a difficult time making it into the Gulf of Mexico in all likelihood.
Should a tropical system develop in the western Caribbean later this month, it will have a difficult time making it into the Gulf of Mexico in all likelihood. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

While we can’t say with absolute certainty that this eventual storm won’t head into the Gulf of Mexico, we can tell you that the chances of that happening are quite low. That’s because this is the time of year we see a higher number of cold fronts pushing across the Southeast.

And behind those fronts typically exists a strong area of fall high pressure. Both of those make it very difficult for tropical systems to make it into the Gulf of Mexico beyond the west coast of Florida.

Again, it’s impossible to say where exactly a storm that hasn’t developed yet is going to go, but confidence is high in it NOT threatening Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, Mississippi, Louisiana, or Texas.

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