In a hurricane season that has already been historic in many ways, another Atlantic tropical storm may soon be brewing.
A tropical wave is developing in the eastern Caribbean Sea, just west of the Windward Islands (St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Grenada and St. Vincent). A cluster of thunderstorms associated with the wave is becoming better organized. A tropical wave, also known as an easterly wave, is an elongated area of relatively low pressure moving east to west across the tropics. These waves can lead to the formation of tropical cyclones.
The current wave is feeding off the very warm waters of the Caribbean, where sea surface temperatures are well into the 80s. This fuel, along with lack of wind shear that would otherwise tear apart a tropical system, will likely lead to further development of this disturbance.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), a tropical depression is likely to form this weekend or early next week as the system moves into the central and western Caribbean Sea. It pegs the odds of this happening at 70% to 80%, and the depression may strengthen to a tropical storm at some point.
Regardless of development, this system is expected to produce heavy rainfall this weekend across portions of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao), as well as Jamaica.
If it becomes a tropical storm, it will be named Eta and would be the 28th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic season. This would tie 2005 for the most named storms in a single Atlantic season, according to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist with the Colorado State University Tropical Weather and Climate Research team. Named storms include tropical storms and hurricanes.
Compared to other Atlantic seasons on record, through Wednesday the 2020 season is well above average as far as the number of named storms and hurricanes. It’s slightly above average in the number of major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.
It’s much too early to tell if this potential storm will directly impact supply chains and transportation in the continental U.S. or any U.S. territories, but it’s certainly worth tracking. Look for updates on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.