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Dorian is a Tropical Storm, that's about all we know

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Posted at 8:50 AM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-27 09:50:59-04

It's time to write about Tropical Storm Dorian, not necessarily because the threat is imminent but because the hype train is starting to chug out of the station.

There's a lot about Dorian that we don't know and it's worth pointing out that a small messy storm like Dorian is going to be really hard to forecast.

So keep in mind that things can (probably will) change quickly from one advisory to the next, so it's important to remember there's a lot we just don't know as of Tuesday morning.

As stated above, this is a small storm which is just getting its first interaction with land, how it handles the interaction with Puerto Rico and the larger Islands will go a long way in telling us the final behavior of this storm.

The National Hurricane Center currently has Dorian maintaining tropical storm force winds, opting to go with the higher range of model forecast intensity, keeping in mind that dry air and upper wind sheer will limit the total strengthening of this system.

This is the forecast trend that really caused the hype train to start warming up, with a scary looking left turn into the Florida Peninsula which would put it on a path to the Gulf of Mexico, but there's a few things worth pointing out when looking at the cone.

The first is the timing, Dorian isn't expected to get to Hispaniola for about two days, the Florida coastline won't see an impact for a solid six days from the writing of this article (Tuesday morning) which puts it well outside any forecast with any semblance of certainty.

During that time Dorian has a very inhospitable region to make it through having to traverse an area of pretty dry air in between the Antilles and Hispaniola which will really have an impact on such a small storm, with a messy center.

Dry air isn't the only issue, there's quite a bit of sheer that Dorian also has to navigate just to get to Hispaniola/Puerto Rico, and if it's able to do that it then has to thread a needle between Puerto Rico and Hispaniola.

Navigating this gauntlet will be tricky, but certainly possible and conditions from there look a little more favorable for a tropical system to strengthen as it heads towards Florida.

The exact placement of the storm coming out of the Caribbean will play a major role in the ability of this storm to stick together and have anything left over that could strengthen, the reason why is topography.

Both Puerto Rico, and especially Hispaniola are mountainous which acts as massive speed bumps that not only slow down systems but can actually tear them apart completely, just how long and where Dorian interacts with those two islands is critical to a forecast and until we see that happen it's hard to say what comes after.

Pointing out these uncertainties and challenges to Dorian isn't enough to reel in the hype train, so for that we make the assumptions that Dorian crawls out into a more favorable environment and take a look at what some of the longer range models are telling us.

Before we do a run through of the models it should be pointed out that they are all going to struggle with such a small storm with a messy center so everything has to be taken with a grain of salt and the realization that all models are going to struggle a little bit.

We can start with everyone's favorite EURO model, which has not actually handled Dorian all that well missing it's creation and refusing to acknowledge it as a wave before it was a storm, this further adds to the uncertainty.

The EURO isn't particularly impressed with Dorian and while it does keep Dorian going through the islands a quick strengthening before Florida if fizzles the storm out as it interacts with a stationary boundary before it can get to the Gulf of Mexico.

This could push some tropical moisture into our area through next week which would increase shower chances a little, but that bump in rain chances is already starting to be reflected in our 10 day forecasts, and isn't a massive amount of moisture compared to some of the other tropical waves we've seen this summer.

A single forecast isn't built of a single model though so let's call up our next favorite model the GFS and see what it thinks about Tropical Storm Dorian.

This model has a direct hit on the most mountainous part of Hispaniola and wipes it out almost completely, leaving a wave moving through the Bahamas and regaining some strength before Florida.

If this is how it pans out than Dorian may bring heavy rains about as close as the Big Bend of Florida before it too finally fizzles out before it can have much of an impact on Louisiana.

In fact most models seems to adhere somewhere between the GFS and EURO and none of the ones I've been through have had any impacts on Louisiana outside maybe a few extra showers.

This is why it's important to to avoid getting caught up in the hype train and stay on the platform has it goes careening off the tracks.

Is Dorian a concern? Should Dorian be monitored? Of course it should.

It's the peak of the tropical season and storms always do strange things, so any storm so close to the Gulf of Mexico should be watched, and checked in on from time to time.

That being said, it's not time to over react and panic right now there is no model support for any strengthening in the Gulf or impacts to Louisiana.

Models and forecasts change of course which is why we check in on the storm to make sure it's all behaving the way it should, but we don't need to be glued to every single advisory pulling up each new cone every three hours.

If you have interests in east Florida watch the storm a little closer, and find some meteorologists in the area who are more familiar the region.