Invest 97L and 98L bring a lot of questions to the forecast

Posted at 7:13 AM, Aug 19, 2020

It's that time again.

The peak of tropics season, and we're ushering in this new phase of season with what is now Invest 97L and Invest 98L (likely Laura and Marco by the weekend).

Any discussion of these two systems should start with the caveat that there is a lot more questions then there are answers currently, and over the next several days there will be plenty of uncertainty in the forecast.

Still, despite a lack of confidence in the forecast, both of these systems are worth talking about since they may both pose a threat to the continental United States particularly states along the Gulf of Mexico.

While neither system has officially developed and currently aren't in areas that are overly conducive for development both are moving into areas that are less hostile with a little less shear and a little more moisture.

So for another or day or two we more then likely will be talking about Invests with the official designation of a tropical system arriving later in the work week, while it seems trivial that official designation plays a major role in the confidence of the forecast.

Once the models have something official they can lock onto then they have a better grasp on what is going on and start to produce a more useful product.

Let's start with a close look at Invest 97L currently looking a little ragged as it moves through the southern Caribbean and producing some thunderstorms south of the Dominican Republic.

This wave had a tough day on Tuesday battling back some drier air on the northern and western side, but there's a pocket of moisture north of Panama that will help bolster the invest later this week.

Once it gets to that part of the Caribbean we will have to watch closely to see how that moisture impacts the disturbance as it may be just the thing it needs to get organized into a tropical system.

As mentioned the way this system looks when it organizes will go a long way in determining the eventual outcome, typically a less organized weaker system will continue to drift west taking it through the south Gulf and into Mexico.

A larger, more organized storm may start to turn and head northwards putting it squarely in the Gulf of Mexico by next week, a less than ideal outcome.

Due to the nature of the wave currently models have essentially no clue how this thing is going to behave beyond a couple of days, so confidence in the forecast will remain low for the next few days.

That becomes apparent by taking a look at the spaghetti chart and seeing the wide various from different model outputs with solutions falling in central Mexico to the Florida panhandle.

When it comes to Invest 97L the key time frame to watch is going to be late this week when it gets to an area that is a little more favorable for development.

The other disturbance, Invest 98L, currently sits in the Atlantic basin and is slowly approaching the Caribbean and showing signs of becoming a system maybe a little quicker then Invest 97L.

There's still some dry air that it will have to battle back but over the next 48 hours it should put itself in a position to develop into an official tropical system, and possibly impact the Gulf of Mexico.

Unfortunately, it's a similar scenario in that models will be all over the place until we know what the system looks like when it finally organizes into something more than a tropical wave.

No model looks the same and they've all swung wildly back and forth over the last couple of days which leaves a very uncertain forecast.

Again it looks like by Friday we will have a little more concrete information since both the systems will be in areas that will allow them to develop the low and in turn allow forecasters to start wrapping their heads around what could be coming up.

The spaghetti chart again shows a pretty wide spread in model outputs, although they seem to be leaning more to the eastern Gulf of Mexico at the moment, but that could certainly change.

It's very important to take all these forecasts with the proper grain of salt, and remember that there's certainly going to be a lot of change between now and next week.

What you can't allow yourself to do is let fatigue set in and take this article or any of the images in this article as the end all be all and stop checking back in.

Hopefully by the weekend we will have a better idea of what will be coming down the line for Louisiana in regards to the tropics, and in the meantime all we can do is be aware that the tropics are heating up.
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