Tropical problems in the Caribbean loom as the Atlantic hurricane season draws to a close

CNN Weather

A potential tropical cyclone is making landfall in the Caribbean Sea on Thursday afternoon, November 16, 2023.


The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season technically ends in two weeks, but parts of the Atlantic are still underway. A potential tropical cyclone came to life on Thursday afternoon and is expected to become a tropical storm on Friday in the Caribbean Sea – the area forecasters marked as the zone to watch in November.

This new potential tropical cyclone – a system that does not yet meet the criteria for a tropical depression or storm but still poses a threat to land – was just east of Honduras and Nicaragua on Thursday. It is expected to become a tropical depression Thursday night and a tropical storm Friday afternoon.

When this system strengthens into a tropical storm, it will be given the penultimate name on the 2023 hurricane season list: Vince.

Tropical storm watches were issued Thursday afternoon for Jamaica, Haiti, parts of Cuba, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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No matter how strong the system becomes, its heavy rainfall will drench Jamaica and parts of Cuba and Haiti Thursday night into Saturday, and dangerous flash flooding and mudslides are possible in the heaviest rain.

Parts of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands are also in for a soaking on Saturday as tropical moisture fuels storms in the area.

The potential storm was thwarted earlier this week by a few environmental factors. To develop and strengthen, a tropical system needs warm water, low wind shear and plenty of moisture. But not all of these were in place across the Caribbean this week.

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Sea surface temperatures remain very warm to support tropical development, but wind shear emerged as a limiting factor. Wind shear can tear a storm’s circulation apart or prevent one from forming entirely.

However, as wind shear decreases, it leaves the door open for tropical development, and wind shear over the Caribbean eased a bit late Wednesday into Thursday and will remain generally low into the weekend.

Further north, tropical development is possible but unlikely from an area of ​​thunderstorms off the southeast coast. This area of ​​stormy weather dumped heavy rainfall across South Florida on Wednesday.

The more likely scenario is for a non-tropical storm to develop and move up the East Coast over the weekend. In this scenario, rough seas and windy conditions are possible along the southeast coast this weekend.

Despite being late in the season, tropical storms and even hurricanes form in November.

  • Hurricane Nicole strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane before slamming into Florida on November 10, 2022.
  • Iota and Eta were both strengthened to powerful Category 4 hurricanes in November 2020.
  • With sustained winds of 155 mph, Iota was the strongest November storm in the Atlantic since 1999’s Hurricane Lenny, which reached similar intensity.

CNN’s Abigail Holmes contributed to this story.