August 21, 2019

Tropical Storm Chantal Forms Out In The Middle Of Nowhere

A disturbance in the northern Atlantic Ocean developed into Tropical Storm Chantal on Tuesday evening, becoming the third named storm of the unusually quiet-to-this-point Atlantic hurricane season. Forecasters expect the storm to remain far out in the north-central Atlantic, posing a threat to no one but some ships and maybe a floating beach ball or whatever.
An infrared satellite loop of Tropical Storm Chantal on the evening of August 20, 2019 | Tropical Tidbits

The National Hurricane Center began mentioning this disturbance in its tropical weather outlooks last Friday, and it remained at a 10 percent chance of development until the system began to get its act together on Tuesday morning. Hey—a 10 percent chance is still a chance.

The system became Tropical Storm Chantal after developing a sustained patch of thunderstorms this morning, which in turn induced the development of a closed circulation at the surface. Westerly wind shear is keeping the system from looking its best tonight. The storm is moving east at a decent clip and its thunderstorms are all confined to the east of the center of circulation.

This tropical storm is what you stare at when you're a bored weather enthusiast aimlessly wandering around the internet looking for something to do on a late summer weeknight. It's underwhelming, but it's better than watching a King of Queens rerun on TV Land for the 87th time.

Tropical Storm Chantal should remain far out in the central Atlantic Ocean; the 11:00 PM EDT forecast shows the system barely clinging to tropical storm status as it wanders somewhere between Bermuda and The Azores. A cone of uncertainty forms a haphazard blob over the central Atlantic as a result of the storm's expected curly track toward the end of its life cycle—if it survives that long, of course.

Chantal is the first storm we've seen in the Atlantic since Hurricane Barry made landfall on the northern Gulf Coast in the middle of July. That's the longest mid-summer quiet stretch since at least the early 80s. We're approaching peak season and it doesn't take much for one storm to turn into a serious threat if it approaches land. Even though it's quiet and we're talking about one thunderstorm over a semi-naked wind swirl right now, it's wise to make visiting the National Hurricane Center a part of your daily routine for the next month or two. Things can change in a hurry.

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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 contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.