July 5, 2018

Hostile Atlantic Ocean Eagerly Waiting to Tear New Tropical Depression to Shreds

Newly-minted Tropical Depression Two is a visually impressive but ultimately doomed cyclone that's far out in the Atlantic Ocean between the Lesser Antilles and Africa. The system in any other year would become a serious concern for interests near the coast, but in this year, this hostile year for the Atlantic Ocean and us all, the storm will last about one-third of a Scaramucci, meeting its untimely fate this Sunday in a swift and meteorologically gruesome fashion.

The National Hurricane Center's first forecast discussion for T.D. Two reads more like the eulogy at a living funeral rather than a dire prediction of tropical woes. The environment is not suitable for significant development. The cyclone may grow strong enough to achieve the name Tropical Storm Beryl before dissipating this weekend at the hands of cooler-than-normal waters, dry air, and strong winds.

The system initially wasn't expected to develop into much of anything, but it started to look more impressive on satellite imagery during the day on Wednesday. This is the kind of cyclone that tries to defy the odds, but fortunately for storm-weary folks near the coasts, the environment is too hostile to allow this storm to buff itself up beyond what we think should be possible. Even a stronger, more solid storm would struggle against the obstacles ahead of T.D. Two.

A quick look at this morning's visible satellite image across the Atlantic shows a small, classic-looking storm that looks like it could have been the nucleus to something more ominous had it formed in a better environment. All that beige fuzz ahead of the storm over the Caribbean is Saharan dust that blew off of Africa ahead of the tropical wave that would become T.D. Two. Dusty desert air is not conducive to a juicy tropical cyclone.

Adding insult to injury is strong wind shear over the eastern Caribbean that will shred the storm to pieces in a hurry. Strong upper-level winds disrupt the updrafts in thunderstorms that try to form and displaces existing thunderstorm activity far away from the center of the cyclone. Both of these work together to kill storms fast. It's something special to watch the thunderstorms in a tropical cyclone floof away (technical term) so fast in dry air and strong wind shear that all that's left is a naked low-level swirl confusedly spinning itself to oblivion.

The remnants of T.D. Two/Beryl will continue into the Antilles through early next week and bring some heavy rain to the area. Aside from a slight chance that a disturbance near Bermuda could briefly develop over the next day or so before also meeting a swift end, the Atlantic will return to its quiet state soon enough.

Related: Here's a Hype-Free Rundown to Help You Keep Track of Storms This Hurricane Season

[Map: Dennis Mersereau | Satellite: NOAA | Model: Tropical Tidbits]


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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I ran Gawker's The Vane for two years and I've contributed to Mental Floss, Forbes, Popular Science, and the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. I also teamed up with Outdoor Life to write a book called The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, which came out in October 2015.

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