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Tropical Wave Gains Strength; Matthew Likely to Form Soon?

The 13th named storm of the season in the Atlantic Basin is likely just hours away from being officially named.

Invest 97-L, the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) terminology for a tropical wave located near the Lesser Antilles, is likely to become Tropical Depression 14 by Wednesday, then potentially Tropical Storm Matthew shortly thereafter. The NHC upped the chances of the storm becoming a tropical depression in the next 48 hours to 90 percent on Tuesday, obviously making the chances of the storm’s formation extremely likely by mid-week.

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The so-called ‘Hurricane Hunters’ flew into the storm on Tuesday afternoon, but they were unable to find a center of low pressure at the surface, although they noted increasing organization with the storm. But the inability to find a closed low meant that the storm remained a tropical wave as of Tuesday night, although that designation will likely change on Wednesday as the storm continues to organize and intensify, even though they noted winds to near tropical storm force on their mission.

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Regardless of exact formation time, it’s likely that this area of low pressure will pose problems for the Caribbean and potentially the United States this weekend and/or early next week. The current track of the storm will bring it through the central and southern Lesser Antilles on Wednesday and Thursday and into the eastern Caribbean by the end of the week, at which point an upper-level trough of low pressure dropping out of the southeastern United States may begin to interact with the system and steer it north. If so, that could bring possible U.S. impacts in the early or middle part of next week, or it could move the system off the eastern seaboard and out to sea entirely.

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The storm’s track and possible intensity remain the two big questions as it moves into the eastern Caribbean Sea. There are major questions and uncertainties regarding this system, and the forecast will change frequently.

Interests in the Caribbean, the Eastern seaboard and the Gulf Coast should closely monitor this system. WeatherNation will have the latest on this system as it develops.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Chris Bianchi

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