Tropical Cyclone (16L) is now active…located about 305 miles east of Bluefields, Nicaragua
Tropical Depression 16L is likely to become tropical storm Otto this evening…and may attain category 1 hurricane status within 72 hours
Whether or not tropical depression 16L becomes a tropical storm or a possible hurricane, it will still be capable of causing major problems in Central America. This system will be capable of bringing days of heavy rain to Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.
Torrential rains could spread into parts of Honduras, Belize, and Guatemala by later in the week…assuming this tropical cyclone moves west and strengthens as the NHC expects.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the cloud pattern of this tropical cyclone is gradually becoming better organized, with some banding features over the northern and western portions of the circulation, and small bursts of deep convection near or over the estimated center.
There is moderate south-southeasterly wind shear over the depression, and this should allow for only slow strengthening over the next day or two. In 72 hours or so, some relaxation of the shear is forecast, with an upper-level anticyclone developing over the tropical cyclone, and the system is predicted to become a hurricane before landfall.
Satellite-derived center fixes indicate little motion since late yesterday. The depression is currently located near a col in the mid-level flow, so steering currents are very weak at this time.
Global model guidance shows a high pressure system developing to the north of the system in a few days, so a generally westward track is forecast.
There is a lot of uncertainty as to whether the system will survive as a tropical cyclone while crossing Central America later in the forecast period. The current thinking is that the interaction with land and increasing wind shear will reduce the system to a remnant low by the time it reaches the east Pacific.
According to NOAA’s best track database, prior to January 2016’s unusual Hurricane Alex, only 18 storms of at least tropical storm strength had formed on or after November 21 dating back to 1950.
The last to do so prior to Alex and the current system was Tropical Storm Olga in December 2007.
Only nine tropical cyclones became hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin after November 21 from 1950 through 2015.
Only one of those nine hurricanes occurred in the southwest Caribbean Sea…which was Hurricane Martha in 1969.
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
RAINFALL: Outer rain bands from the depression are expected to produce rainfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches across portions of central and western Panama and southeastern Costa Rica through Wednesday, with isolated totals upwards of 10 to 15 inches across the higher terrain. These rains could result in life-threatening flash floods and mud slides. Additional heavy rainfall may move into portions of Costa Rica Wednesday night into Thursday as the system approaches the coast.
Tropical Cyclone 16L
Gulf of Mexico
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