JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The 25th system of the 2020 hurricane season formed Friday morning. It is forecast to move into the Gulf as it intensifies into Tropical Storm Gamma.
Visible satellite images show that cloudiness and showers associated with the low pressure area over the northwestern Caribbean Sea have become significantly better organized since yesterday, with convective banding features becoming prominent.
Moreover, low cloud motions suggest that a closed circulation has become better defined. An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate the system later today to provide a better intensity estimate.
Sea surface temperatures are very warm and vertical shear should remain low for at least the next couple of days, so the system is likely to become a tropical storm by the time it nears the Yucatan Peninsula tomorrow.
The main impediment to strengthening over the next few days should be the interaction with land. Given the uncertainties about how far offshore the center will be over the next several days, the official intensity forecast is conservative.
For the next couple of days, the system is expected to move northwestward to north-northwestward on the southwestern edge of a mid-level high pressure area. This would take the center near or over the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula.
After about 48 hours, the steering currents are not well-defined and there is considerable spread in the track models. At this time, it appears the cyclone should move slowly westward over the latter part of the forecast period in response to weak ridging over the north-central Gulf of Mexico. The official forecast is near or a little north of the corrected and simple model consensus predictions.
Are We Done Yet?
Not really... The next system to watch is south of Puerto Rico right now, and the NHC places a 30% chance for it to develop as it moves south of Jamaica and Cuba. Long term forecast models hint this system may end up in the Gulf also, if it does develop, it would be named Delta.