Tropical Depression Three is “NEARING TROPICAL STORM STRENGTH” as of 11:00 AM Eastern, as it continues to organize off the Carolina coast. A reconnaissance plane is scheduled to investigate the storm very shortly, and it could be upgraded to Tropical Storm Cristobal at almost any moment now, depending on what the plane finds.
The National Weather Service now expects T.D. 3 to attain 50 mph sustained winds by tomorrow night, as it passes near Cape Hatteras. It’s unlikely to get much stronger than that, though, and will probably be more of a rain event than a wind event. Posts this morning by weatherbloggers Dr. Jeff Masters, Eric Berger and Alan Sullivan are all in line with this conventional wisdom: as Berger puts it, “the future Cristobal is unlikely to bring severe winds to land.”
Joe Bastardi, however, is sticking with his guns. I mentioned yesterday that the sometimes-excitable AccuWeather forecaster was advancing a much more aggressive intensity forecast than the NHC, and according to WeatherMatrix, he continues to do so. Bastardi “still thinks that Hurricane conditions are possible along the Outer Banks tonight,” writes Jesse Farrell. (Bastardi’s actual predictions are subscription-only.) We’ll see who’s right. Personally, my money’s on the NHC in this instance. Bastardi appears to be a lone voice in the wilderness predicting the rapid intensification of T.D. 3.
Meanwhile, there’s no real news regarding “Invest 94L,” the system in the Caribbean that could be a major hurricane threatening Texas next week — if it ever manages to form at all. The NHC’s latest Tropical Weather Outlook, at 8:00 AM Eastern, stated that 94L “HAS NOT BECOME ANY BETTER ORGANIZED DURING THE PAST SEVERAL HOURS. HOWEVER…ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR THIS SYSTEM TO BECOME A TROPICAL DEPRESSION OVER THE NEXT DAY OR TWO.” But that’s what they’ve been saying for about a week now. At this point, I’ll believe it when I see it. Still, if you live on the Gulf Coast, definitely keep an eye on it. You don’t want to be caught off guard by a last-minute, rapidly-developing storm.
While 94L stubbornly refuses to form, Hurricane Bertha — remember her? — stubbornly refuses to die. Bertha restrengthened yesterday to a hurricane, and continues to defy predictions that she’ll imminently weaken or become extratropical. Bertha is already one of the longest-lived storms on record (17 days!), and seems intent on sticking around a little longer. Her demise is inevitable at some point, though, as she moves over increasingly cooler waters and into increasingly hostile atmospheric conditions. But the NHC has essentially given up on predicting exactly when they’ll be rid of Bertha. As the 5:00 AM discussion put it, “BERTHA HAS TO WEAKEN AND BEGIN TO BECOME EXTRATROPICAL…FAMOUS LAST WORDS.”
Here’s a look at the three areas of interst in Atlantic — awfully busy for mid-July:
Invest 94L at bottom left, below Cuba and Jamaica; T.D. 3 at middle left, off the Carolina coast; and Hurricane Bertha at top right, chugging ever further northward.
UPDATE: Houston, we have a Cristobal!