September 22, 2011

Tropical Storm Ophelia Continues Westward

Tropical Storm Ophelia continues to track westward across the south-central Atlantic.

The storm is currently located 970 miles east of the Leeward Island.

Satellite images through late Thursday morning suggest the storm remains somewhat disorganized due to strong southwesterly shear.

Satellite images show the low level circulation center west and southwest of the more intense thunderstorms.

In fact there are no thunderstorms on the west and southwest side of the storm. Ophelia passed buoy 41041 early this morning with sustained winds of 62 mph and a wind gust of 78 mph.

Since then the thunderstorms to the east and north of the storm have weakened suggesting winds are no stronger and perhaps less than what the buoy encountered.

The 20-25kt shear currently over the storm will prevent the system from becoming stronger during the next few days.

In fact, Ophelia should gradually weaken tomorrow and over the weekend as strong shear and drier air lie in its path.

There is some chance the upper level system to the north and west of Ophelia causing the shear might weaken or move away from Ophelia early next week.

This might give the storm an opportunity to restrengthen.

Ophelia will make a gradual turn more to the west-northwest later today and tonight, continuing on that track through the weekend.

This path will take Ophelia near or just north of the northern Leeward Islands by the weekend.

Beyond that, models show Ophelia taking a sharp turn to the north which will take the storm near Bermuda during the middle of next week.

A small shift in the track to the south could mean greater impact across populated areas.

In the meantime, no computer information is suggesting a threat to the Bahamas or the mainland of the United States.

So, the only real affect Ophelia will have is higher-than-average surf along the East Coast next week.

The rest of the Atlantic Basin remains quiet for the time being with no other organized systems and no additional tropical development expected through Saturday.

By AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski

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