There are no tropical storm or hurricane watches or warnings in effect for Trinidad and Tobago and the Lesser Antilles concerning Tropical Wave 32/Invest 96L at this time.
On Saturday, none of the top global models developed Invest 96L as a tropical cyclone as it moves across the Lesser Antilles early this upcoming week. This system remains a heavy rainfall threat, mainly for the Windward Islands.
What We Know
The axis of Tropical Wave 32 is along 52-53W from 4N- 15N, moving west at 28 KM/H. Scattered showers are occurring within the vicinity of the wave axis, west of the low-pressure center. As of the 18Z surface analysis Friday evening, a 1012 millibar low pressure is present at approximately 13N, 53W, moving northwest at 15 knots.
Presently, this wave is located in an area of favorable upper-level divergence but unfavorable low-level convergence due to weakening showers and thunderstorms. There is a large envelope of high atmospheric moisture, protecting the convection from a dense plume of Saharan Dust to the north of the wave axis.
Wind shear across the low-pressure center is variable, with unfavorable shear north and south of the low-pressure center, with low, favorable wind shear across the low itself. However, the vorticity (spin) associated with this wave remains very elongated, with now two maximum areas of vorticity occurring, south and northern lobes.
Sea surface temperatures are favorable for convection to develop, between 29 and 30 degrees Celsius ahead of the wave.
As seen below, the National Hurricane Center, in their 2:00 PM Tropical Weather Outlook on Saturday 3rd August 2019, there is a low chance for development over the next 5 days at 20% and a low chance of development over the next 48 hours, at 20%. Note that gradual development is still possible, but this system is forecast to remain a heavy rain threat to the Lesser Antilles, particularly the Windwards.
What We Expect
The Takeaway: Based on the 12Z and 18Z model runs on Saturday evening from the top global models for tropical cyclone development, the low-pressure center of Invest 96L is forecast to move across the Leewards/French Antilles on Tuesday.
Note that for large waves such as this, impacts may extend far away from the center of circulation.
On Saturday, models and their ensembles have generally maintained the French Antilles path for Invest 96L, the low-pressure center associated with Tropical Wave 32.
A subtropical high-pressure system will keep this wave and its associated low pressure on a mostly west-northwesterly to westerly path over the next several days.
In addition, the GFS and the EMCWF are at odds with one another, with the EMCWF suggesting a slower speed compared to GFS. The EMCWF is bringing Tropical Wave 32/Invest 96L across the Lesser Antilles on Tuesday, while the GFS is bringing it across on Monday.
Note that due to its large moisture envelope and circulation, showers and thunderstorms are still forecast to begin affecting the Lesser Antilles beginning Monday, lingering through Wednesday.
By Tuesday, nearly all operational runs of top global models for tropical development bring the center of circulation (or remnants of it) of this system either across or near Guadeloupe and Dominica. The GFS has been trending further south, across the French Antilles while the EMCWF keeps the center of the circulation across the Leewards.
It then continues west to west-northwest (a marked shift from previous runs) into the Caribbean Sea.
Intensity & Impacts
The Takeaway: Based on the 12Z and 18Z model runs on Saturday evening from the top global models for tropical cyclone development, there is no model support for development.
Because of the broad circulation, large moisture field and generally favorable atmosphere, scattered showers and thunderstorms are possible across the entire Lesser Antilles, beginning on Sunday across the Southern Windwards. Generally, below 2 inches (50 mm) of rainfall is forecast across the Lesser Antilles with isolated areas across the Windwards seeing between 2-4 inches (50-100 mm). A few mountainous areas, or areas where persisting thunderstorms occur may see up to 6 inches (150 mm)
Note that for large waves such as this, impacts may extend far away from the center of circulation.
About 80-85% of European and GFS model ensemble members from Friday morning generate a depression from 96L east of the Leewards. Only about 5% of the ensemble members maintain 96L as a tropical cyclone beyond that point, with great uncertainty over where such a system might move.
A tropical depression may form well east of the Lesser Antilles this weekend, as conditions are favorable for development. However, due to several mitigating factors, this area of low pressure is likely to degenerate into a tropical wave as it moves across the Lesser Antilles early next week.
Generally, winds are not forecast to be strong. Across the Lesser Antilles, winds are generally forecast to remain between 20-40 KM/H, normal for the region. Wind gusts may occasionally occur up to and in excess of 60 KM/H in mountainous areas, as well as in the vicinity of heavy showers or thunderstorms. The highest winds are forecast to move across the Leewards, with peak sustained winds of 45 KM/H possible.
Widespread, persistent rains are not forecast as a result of Invest 96L. Instead, due to this influence on the ITCZ, this feature is forecast to move across the Southern Windwards, including Trinidad and Tobago. As the ITCZ interacts with the axis of Tropical Wave 32, and in combination with a favorably located upper-level trough (TUTT), scattered showers and thunderstorms are likely across the Southern Windwards beginning on Sunday, lingering through Wednesday.
Tropical Wave 33 is also forecast to bring another round of showers and thunderstorms to the region between Wednesday and Friday.
Regardless, persons with interests or residing in the Leeward Islands need to review their 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season Preparedness plan, as well as any necessary flood and landslide preparedness plans. Follow guidance from your local meteorological and disaster management offices.
Now the big question on everyone’s mind, predominantly those who read Trinidad and Tobago Weather Center’s posts, is “What about Trinidad and Tobago”?
This system will not directly impact Trinidad and Tobago. Based on latest modeling, this system is forecast to move across the Lesser Antilles as an open wave (tropical wave or trough).
The interaction with Tropical Wave 32, the broad area of circulation associated with Invest 96L, its influence on the ITCZ, a favorably located upper-level trough (TUTT) and high total atmospheric moisture, the atmosphere is primed for showers and thunderstorms, beginning Sunday through Wednesday of the upcoming week.
Tropical Wave 33, following the axis of this wave, is forecast to move across T&T during the second half of next week, bringing additional showers and thunderstorms to T&T.
Based on the latest model guidance, between Monday and Friday of next week, rainfall accumulation totals between 50-75 millimeters are possible across both Trinidad and Tobago, with isolated totals up to 100 millimeters.
Reiterating, this rainfall will not be directly associated with Invest 96L but influenced by its passage.
Other Concerns on Invest 96L
(A Tropical Wave)
Why I May Not/Will Not See Constant Rainfall?
A frequent complaint is the forecast is wrong because I didn’t experience any rainfall. Scattered showers mean that you, individually, may experience some showers intermittently throughout the day and there is a higher chance for this activity than isolated activity. Generally, because of winds associated with weak tropical waves, showers and thunderstorms tend to follow a west-northwest track, generally missing areas across Southwestern Trinidad and even Northwestern Trinidad – though activity due to local climatic effects such as daytime heating may trigger shower and thunderstorm development across these areas. See the below graphic for a simple explanation.
With this tropical wave and associated features, mostly scattered showers and thunderstorms are forecast. Hence, we are likely to see intermittent showers and thunderstorms, interrupting mostly cloudy to overcast skies between beginning on Monday.
But this model shows…
Individual model runs are just one possible outcome from a myriad of outcomes. Weather does not always follow what is modeled, and even what may be forecast. Beware of individual model runs being posted on social media, especially since this tropical wave is more than 5 days away from moving across the Windwards.
Always check the National Hurricane Center for the latest information for tropical cyclones and your local meteorological offices for country-specific advisories concerning Invest 96L.
What is an Invest?
It sounds ominous, but from the outset, it really isn’t. Invest is short for investigation, followed by the numbers 90 through 99 and either the letter “L” for the Atlantic basin systems or “E” for the Eastern Pacific Systems.
This naming convention is used by the National Hurricane Center to identify features they are monitoring for potential future development into a tropical depression or a tropical storm.
According to the National Hurricane Center, by designating a tropical weather system as an “Invest”, the collection of specialized data sets and computer model guidance on the area of interest can begin. This collection and processing of data are shown on a number of government and academic websites for analyzing.
That said, the “Invest” assignment does not correspond to how likely a system may develop into a tropical depression or storm.
What should I do?
Firstly, don’t panic. There is a high likelihood of Invest 96L remaining a tropical wave moving across the Lesser Antilles by the beginning of next week.
Secondly, if you are a risk-averse person, now is a good time to check your inclement weather or hurricane season plan, ensuring your preparedness supplies are not expired, stocked and in a safe location.
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management has put together a comprehensive guide for preparing for the 2019 Wet and Hurricane Season.