EASTERN CAROLINA - Shower and thunderstorm activity that could become a tropical depression or Tropical Storm Cristobal has increased during the past few hours in association with a small area of low pressure located just north of the Mona Passage between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Satellite pictures and reports from an Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft indicate that the circulation associated with the area of low pressure is poorly defined.
I'm alerting you that some additional development of this system is possible Friday, but weather conditions are expected to become even better for development of a tropical depression or tropical storm when the disturbance moves near or over the southeastern Bahamas on Saturday.
Whether the system becomes a tropical disturbance or a tropical storm or not, it will still produce gusty winds and heavy rainfall across Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) and the southeastern and central Bahamas on Saturday.
The chance of becoming either a tropical depression or tropical storm stands at 70 percent for the next 48 hours and 80 percent for the next five days.
By Sunday, the disturbance should begin to strengthen even more as it moves north across the central and northern Bahamas. My thinking is that the storm will drift pretty slowly to the north from Sunday through Tuesday before a couple of other weather systems begin to try to push the disturbance toward the north.
If the front approaching the East Coast of the U.S. (coming in from the west) is fairly strong and arrives on time, the tropical weather should be pulled north toward Bermuda, staying well off the East Coast of the United States.
If the front slows down or if the flow aloft begins to run parallel to the front, then it will stay and could serve as the pathway for the tropical system to drift northwest toward an area from Florida north to North Carolina. If that happens, I could be alerting you to some tropical weather impacts in our area by late next week.
Shower activity associated with the small low pressure area moving over the Leeward Islands remains limited and disorganized. Interaction of the low with Puerto Rico and Hispaniola will likely inhibit significant development through tonight. However, environmental conditions are expected to be more conducive for development when the disturbance moves near or over the southeastern Bahamas on Saturday, and a tropical depression is likely to form over the weekend or by early next week.
This system could head towards the southeastern U.S. coast early next week. At this point should this system develop enough to be named Cristobal, it will likely follow a similar track as Bertha did passing between Cape Hatteras and Bermuda the middle of next week.
A hurricane hunter aircraft will again fly into the system this afternoon. After that occurs we'll have a better handle on the speed of formation and ultimate track.
Stay with StormTrack12 as we continue to alert you to this pending storm formation and any danger it may pose to eastern Carolina next week.