By the end of this week there’s a very good chance we’ll be talking about the next named storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. Over the next couple of days a disturbance near the southeastern Bahamas may become a tropical depression or a tropical storm. Before this happens, the area of investigation, known as “Invest 95L”, will drench portions of the Bahamas with locally heavy rainfall.
According to the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) latest update, issued September 12 at 2 p.m. EDT, satellite images indicated that 95L has not yet developed a closed circulation. However, atmospheric pressure remains low and environmental conditions are favorable for 95L to strengthen into a tropical depression or a tropical storm within the next day or two as the system moves toward the northwestern Bahamas. Shippers, carriers, brokers and anyone else with interests in the central and northwestern Bahamas as well as Florida should follow 95L’s progress.
Regardless of 95L’s development, it will drop drop heavy rainfall and produce gusty winds across portions of the Bahamas through tomorrow, including areas of the Bahamas that were devastated and destroyed by Hurricane Dorian.
Dorian was a brutal reminder of how quickly a tropical wave can escalate into a major hurricane, leveling nearly everything in its path. This is why up-to-date information and forecasts for tropical systems are housed within the FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events platform.
The NHC is pegging the odds of 95L becoming a tropical depression or tropical storm by Saturday morning at 70%. If it doesn’t happen by then, the chances are 80% from Saturday morning to next Tuesday morning. If 95L picks up enough steam and maximum sustained winds reach 39 to 73 mph, it would become Tropical Storm Humberto (oom-BAIR-toh). If winds increase to at least 74 mph we’ll have Hurricane Humberto.
Because the system is disorganized at this time, it’s difficult to predict with a high level of accuracy exactly how strong it may become and where it will go. Possibility ‘A’ is a path across southern Florida and then into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend; possibility ‘B’ is a path similar to Hurricane Dorian’s, with the storm reaching the Mid-Atlantic region by the middle or latter part of next week. Logistics companies from Louisiana to the Carolinas should pay attention to 95L’s progress.
If this current cluster of clouds and rain becomes a hurricane, it probably won’t end up as strong as Dorian was when it traveled along the southeastern and Mid-Atlantic coasts of the U.S. However, situations can change rapidly and it’s early in the game. One run of the computer models does not a forecast make. The outlooks will become more fine-tuned over the next couple of days, thanks in part to Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft that may be flown into the area to investigate the disturbance. These are known as the Hurricane Hunters.
The least that may happen – in this case a good thing – is that drought-stricken portions of the Southeast would receive much needed rain this weekend, if 95L takes path ‘A’. Three to four inches of rain would fall in southeastern Alabama, southern Georgia and parts of the Florida Panhandle. On path ‘B’ most of the rain would relieve the severe drought in South Carolina. The worst that may happen – sections of the Southeast would damaged by strong winds and flooding.
Stay tuned for updates on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts in the coming days.