SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The tropics have been relatively quiet in the Atlantic for the last few days, despite Tropical Storm Fred spinning away over the open waters of the Atlantic. But, Tropical Depression Seven has formed on Saturday morning near the Cape Verde Islands with max winds of 35 miles per hour.
T.D. Seven became better organized on Saturday morning. The National Hurricane Center said T.D. Seven could become Tropical Storm Grace by Sunday morning. The NHC official forecast track for this system takes it westward this week, toward the Caribbean Sea.
But, even after T.D. Seven becomes T.S. Grace, it may not thrive so gracefully in the Atlantic due to unfavorable conditions for tropical development: dry air and strong wind shear.
Down the line, forecast models take T.D. Seven / T.S. Grace westward into a generally unfavorable environment for development. A large area of dry air in the system's path across the central Atlantic Ocean should slow its development.
Also, there is a band of unfavorable wind shear stretching from the Caribbean to Africa. "While T.D. Seven will not have to deal with that wind shear for a while, allowing it to intensify through early week, if the system encounters the wind shear later this week, it will slow any development and possibly weaken it by the middle to end of the week," commented WLOX Meteorologist Wesley Williams.
Like what happened with Fred last week, the strength of the Bermuda high pressure ridge over the Atlantic Ocean will ultimately determine when T.D. Seven / T.S. Grace takes a turn to the north.
"A weaker high pressure ridge means T.D. Seven / T.S. Grace could turn early and stay out to sea like Fred," Williams explained. "A stronger high pressure ridge would mean a later turn to the north for T.D. Seven / T.S. Grace, which would bring it closer to the U.S. mainland than Fred was able to be."
Early indications are that the high pressure ridge will be stronger than it was a week ago when it steered Fred. So, that may explain why the official forecast track for T.D. Seven does not take an early turn north, following in Fred's footsteps, and instead takes the system farther west toward the Caribbean by late week.
"It is far too early to call Tropical Depression Seven a threat to the U.S.," stated Williams. "And it is located thousands of miles away from the Gulf Coast. Certainly no cause for concern. But, the WLOX 24/7 Weather Team will continue to track the latest developments on Tropical Depression Seven.