Updated at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Monday
Tropical Storm Philippe seems to have finally decided on a track. After doing the tropical twist while it was dating former Tropical Storm Rina, it’s creeping past the extreme northeastern Caribbean islands on its way toward the central Atlantic.
The storm is totally lopsided with strong thunderstorms with heavy rain and the strongest winds pushed off to the southeast by hostile upper winds. So the center of circulation is hidden on the fringe of the cloud mass, just over 100 miles offshore of the island of Antigua.
The confidence is higher than in recent days about Philippe’s future path, although slow-moving storms are always subject to an unexpected zig or zag since the steering currents are light.
Many of the islands will feel the outer bands of Philippe today through at least Wednesday, at least from Barbados north to Puerto Rico. The closest islands to the center of circulation are Antigua and Barbuda because they are the farthest northeast of the arc of Caribbean islands. Alerts are in effect there for the possibility of strong winds.
By midweek, a more defined steering regime should pick up Philippe and take it off to the north and northeast. The environment should become more conducive for development as well, so Philippe is forecast to become a hurricane as it heads into the open Atlantic.
Nothing else seems to be brewing. The part of the hurricane season when we watch systems coming off Africa is coming to an end. On average, we look to the western Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico during the rest of the season.
Looking in the history book, October is essentially tied with September for the most hurricanes that track within 50 miles of Florida. And highly populated parts of the state – like the Tampa and Miami areas – are more likely to have to deal with a hurricane in October than any other month.
Having said that, nothing is in the offing, and the weather pattern is looking hostile right now over the breeding grounds we watch closest. So far, so good.