Chris Continues to Strengthen
At 7:00pm CDT:
– a Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the northern Leeward Islands.
– a Tropical Storm Watch was in effect for Puerto Rico and the U.S./British Virgin Islands.
– Tropical Storm Chris was located 45 miles north-northeast of Barbuda. Movement is towards the west-northwest at 13mph, maximum sustained winds are near 60mph, and minimum surface pressure is 1003mb.
Track wise, Chris is pretty simple right now. The storm is on the southern side of a rather strong 588dm 500mb ridge. Said ridge extends westward to the central U.S. Models agree that there is a slight weakness in the ridge and this is noted by NHC at -70 degrees longitude. However, this weakness will go away soon and should not alter the path of Chris. As such, Chris is expected to continue west-northwest. Only one model recurves Chris over the open Atlantic, the other models cluster around a path just north of Cuba. This looks like a good solution and I will stick with it. NHC 5 day prog puts Chris on the northern side of Cuba. As alwasy, forecast errors are quite large at 5 days.
Intensity wise Chris is a very difficult system to forecast and will likely do the opposite of anything I forecast. It is not in the most favorable conditions, however it has maintained tropical storm strength. Recent vortex message indicates some weakening, but I’m not going to jump on it as only the max flight winds have come down. The central pressure remains 1003mb and the temperature in the center is 25C with the outside temperature 22C. NHC forecasts tropical storm strength thru late Thursday and then brings Chris to a hurricane. Forecast confidence is really low here, so will have to track it for a few days.by