Atlantic Ocean should begin drying out, rain chances to increase for Gulf Coast, Northeast

The warming tropical Atlantic Ocean has begun to heat up with low pressure well to the east of the eastern United States Atlantic Ocean basin.

These persistent showers and thunderstorms will gradually spread eastward during August and September. Rainfall totals to the west of the Plains will likely be less than the northeast. The rains will not result in any flooding problem across the region.

From the middle to the latter part of August, warm surface air will rapidly enter the circulation of the tropical Atlantic Ocean and increase the amount of tropical moisture available to fall into the Gulf of Mexico and portions of the East Coast.

The result will be an increasingly favorable environment for potential tropical systems to form. The Atlantic basin will be average to slightly below average for storm formation in terms of number and strength of tropical systems, but more abundant development during September.

“Rainfall from the thunderstorms developing from August through September could total 3- to 6-inches for the Gulf Coast area and up to 4-to-6-inches for parts of the Northeast,” said AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

For a brief period, some of these thunderstorms could produce tornadoes as well.

“Some storms this year could be named, mainly for the strongest storms, such as Gordon and Florence,” Kottlowski said.

Of greatest concern, and very warm waters, is the waters just off the U.S. East Coast.

The ocean waters off North Carolina and Virginia are very warm. The water temperature at the surface of the Gulf of Mexico is actually cooler than normal, but the amount of sea surface heating near the water surface and the shallow ridges of hot air around the equator indicate warm waters are nearby.

“These are in the right conditions for tropical formation, but unfortunately, only a handful of tropical systems can develop in the Atlantic during a season,” Kottlowski said.

If not for some strong upper-level winds aloft, more storms would be able to develop and perhaps disrupt plans for energy production or wind farms in the Gulf.

As of now, there does not appear to be a major hurricane on the horizon for the United States. However, the tropical season in the Atlantic Basin can still be active this year.

Occasional interactions with Cape Verde and southern African storms would produce fluctuations in the presence of either tropical systems or non-tropical activity for the southern Atlantic.

A series of storm systems in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as off the East Coast could cause seas to build up to the east of Bermuda and well north of Bermuda. The threat of rip currents and swell for those who go to and from the coastline would be a frequent occurrence.

“If no additional disturbances develop, or if one does and strengthens quickly, it could result in higher seas for beachgoers,” Kottlowski said.

Strong winds in the sea would also bring strong beach erosion.

“The Atlantic will more than likely keep its tropical storm-free status through September,” Kottlowski said. “However, there is always the chance of development during October.”

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