Where will Invest 98L go?

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A tropical wave in the Atlantic that could eventually head toward the Gulf of Mexico is expected to become a tropical depression soon, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The disturbance has been dubbed Invest 98L by the NHC. That just means the NHC is interested in collecting specialized data and running models on the system.

Two major long-term forecast models do predict the system, that’s currently headed toward the Caribbean Sea, will eventually move into the Gulf of Mexico by the middle of next week. However, it’s still far too soon to tell where the system may end up and where impacts could potentially be seen.

What we know

Invest 98L was a few hundred miles east of the southern Windward Islands on Wednesday morning, producing showers and thunderstorms. According to an 8 a.m. ET outlook by the NHC, it was showing signs of organization.

“We do expect it to develop this weekend. And there’s nothing really standing in its way,” WFLA Meteorologist Rebecca Barry said. “We talk about moisture, sea surface temperatures and shear as big factors to inhibit systems from developing and this system has no problem with those.”

Both GFS and Euro models show the system form south of Jamaica over the weekend. Once it does, we expect to get a better idea of where it will eventually go.

“Forecast models typically perform poorly when the system’s not formed yet,” Barry explained. “When that center forms to the south of Jamaica, we’ll get much better and much more accurate long-range forecasts.”

The next thing meteorologists will watch after the system forms is how it interacts with land, like Cuba, before it enters the Gulf.

“We know interaction with land can weaken tropical systems and sometimes change their path, so that’s an area that remains a question in the forecast – how will it survive the passage if that’s the path it takes?” Barry said.

If it passes between Mexico and Cuba instead, that could make for a stronger system.

The bottom line is, as of right now, it’s likely a system will be in the Gulf of Mexico next week but it’s far too early to say where it will go. The forecast models we see now are expected to change in the coming days and will give us a better idea of what to expect once the system actually forms.

The GFS takes the system further west than the Euro once its in the Gulf.

Elsewhere in the tropics

Hurricane Fiona

The NHC is still issuing advisories on Hurricane Fiona, which strengthened to become the first major hurricane of the season this week.

Fiona slammed Puerto Rico over the weekend, knocking out power to the entire island before dumping heavy rain on the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos. The hurricane is now headed north toward Bermuda.

Tropical Storm Gaston

Tropical Storm Gaston formed Tuesday. It does not pose any threat to the United States.

Two more waves

Two new tropical waves are moving off the coast of Africa.

The first is several hundred miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands and has a low 30 percent chance of formation through five days.

The second wave is expected to emerge off the coast of Africa Thursday and has a medium 50 percent chance of formation through five days.

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