This blog discusses now Major-Hurricane Fiona moving north of Hispaniola toward Bermuda as well as possible development in the Caribbean by this weekend or early next week.
To start, Fiona is now a major hurricane – the first major (cat 3 or higher) hurricane of the season!
Model consensus for this system is quite high, aiming just west of Bermuda late week as a major hurricane.
It should slowly strengthen, possibly into a Category 4 hurricane, before weakening this weekend in the north Atlantic.
The next system to monitor is on the heels of Fiona, approaching the Leeward Islands. This disturbance has a moderate risk of development as it moves into the southern Caribbean.
As it does so, this area of the tropics has copious amounts of warm water and “oceanic heat content”. This is very favorable for development.
As this system approaches, wind shear also looks quite favorable, although the northern Gulf does offer some shear risk it appears. Below is valid Sunday September 25th.
Operational models continue to feature rare agreement given the lead time of nearly 8-9 days, with a hurricane in the central or western Gulf valid Wednesday September 28th.
The upper level pattern early next week is concerning for something, if it were to develop, to move northward thanks to troughing in the Southeast U.S. and ridging well east of Florida. This puts the entire Gulf in play.
The ensembles are sensing this, with the GFS (left) and European (right) ensemble suites in relative agreement given the lead time. Note the typical east/west spread given the lead time.
Bottom line: Fiona is a major hurricane and will move west of Bermuda and into the north Atlantic this week. We continue to monitor this second system for possible development and if this occurs, conditions appear favorable for both strengthening and possible movement toward the U.S. to end September.