A very large tropical wave has been moving across the Atlantic Ocean over the past few days and will head through the Caribbean the rest of this week.
This large area of thunderstorms has not yet become organized into a cyclone with a defined center of circulation. So this is not a tropical depression yet.
The majority of computer models indicate that this cluster of thunderstorms will begin to organize and take shape into Tropical Storm Isaias (ees-ah-EE-ahs) sometime today.
It’s doubtful this system will intensify into a hurricane as it moves across the northern Caribbean over the next several days. The primary threats are heavy rains that could total 4 to 8 inches, causing flooding and mudslides, in addition to gusty winds and rough surf that may delay containerized shipping operations at ports in the region.
In a Tuesday evening news release, the U.S. Coast Guard set port condition “YANKEE” for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands due to the threat of tropical storm-force winds arriving the next day. While port condition YANKEE remains in effect, port facilities are closed to all inbound commercial traffic unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port (COTP).
At this time, Coast Guard COTP San Juan anticipates setting port condition “ZULU” at 12 p.m. today for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. These dates and times are subject to change based on future forecast. If and when port condition ZULU is set, meaning sustained gale force winds are expected within 12 hours, port cargo operations will be suspended and the port will be closed to all vessel traffic unless specifically authorized by the COTP.
The tropical wave could also slow down business operations and supply chains on the affected islands in the potential impact zone. But overall, the impacts should be minor to moderate rather than severe.
There is still quite a bit of uncertainty about the intensity and precise path past Thursday, but this potential tropical storm may hit parts of Cuba, the Bahamas and southern Florida from July 31 through August 2. This is based on the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center. Most other forecast models follow a similar path, but there’s a chance the system could miss Florida, hitting the East Coast instead next week. Look for updates on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.
Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.