Updated at 9 a.m. Eastern: A large tropical disturbance on the far side of the Atlantic has a slight chance of developing as it treks off to the west in the general direction of the northeastern Caribbean islands. Its odds of development are low because it’s plowing into a large area of very dry air including some Saharan dust.
From the satellite view, you can see clumpy clouds over the ocean to the north and ahead of the disturbance. Those are similar to fair-weather clouds we would see over land. The atmosphere is too dry to support rain clouds, which often extend higher in the atmosphere.
While there is a slight chance this disturbance might find a moist enough pocket and develop into a tropical depression or tropical storm at least briefly, the more important effect of this system might be to moisten a corridor in the atmosphere for systems coming behind it.
This time of year, we expect a train of disturbances coming off Africa, of course. The major impediment to development seems to be the dry air at the current time. So when a large system moves into the Atlantic, it has to potential to draw moist air from the south and leave a pathway of atmosphere that is more conducive for development of subsequent disturbances.
In the western Gulf of Mexico, the system that looked like it was going to turn into a tropical storm never got there. In the mid-levels of the atmosphere, in apparently had a decent circulation. But at the surface, where it counts, the circulation never consolidated.
The system moved inland with little consequence. It will be absorbed into a larger northern-type low-pressure system over Texas that will bring significant rain. If it doesn’t all come at once, the rain will be a great counter to the damaging drought conditions that have plagued the state and surrounding areas. Periods of heavy rain are likely so some flooding is possible, however. Everybody in Texas and in the threatened areas needs to stay informed.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be focused on the Atlantic to see if hurricane season kicks in as the calendar says it should. The moistening of the tropical Atlantic seems to be the key.