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Tropical depression 3 threatens Florida

UPDATE: A closed low-level circulation became evident on satellite imagery this morning over the southeast Bahamas.  As a result, advisories have been initiated on Tropical Depression Three as of late Thursday morning.

Tropical storm watches and warnings have been issued for the Bahamas and Florida.

That being said, this system still faces obstacles.
There is an upper-level low to the west and northwest of Tropical Depression Three.  Associated with this trough are two ingredients that are typically harmful to tropical cyclone development:

  • Wind shear:  In this case, south to southwest winds aloft are present over Haiti, eastern Cuba, and the eastern Bahamas.  Given near-surface winds have an easterly component, this wind shear tends to displace thunderstorms away from any low-level circulation (which has not formed yet).  For tropical cyclogenesis, you want thunderstorms concentrated near an area of surface low pressure.
  • Dry air: The pronounced bulge of dry air can be seen in the image below over the eastern Gulf of Mexico, western Bahamas, and much of Cuba.  Dry air encountering a fledgling tropical disturbance introduces evaporational cooling, which is the opposite of the warming needed to begin the feedback process of tropical cyclogenesis.  Therefore, dry air is a negative for tropical cyclone formation.

If this upper-level low can stay far enough to the west of this system, it can develop and strengthen, due to winds "spreading apart" aloft, allowing rising air to dominate near the center.  It's a delicate balance.  Click HERE to view the map.