EACHUS: new storm, social media monster brewing?
The National Hurricane Center is monitoring Invest 97L. An invest is, quite simply, an area being investigated for further development. The particular system is expected to become a tropical depression and eventually Tropical Storm Matthew. Here is the official message from the National Hurricane Center as of 8am EDT Wednesday:
"A strong tropical wave is located about 170 miles east of Barbados. This disturbance is producing winds to near tropical storm force, and the associated thunderstorm activity continues to show signs of organization. Conditions are expected to be favorable for development, and a tropical depression or tropical storm is likely to form later today. The system is moving westward to west-northwestward at 15 to 20 mph, and is expected to pass over the Windward Islands later today, and move over the southeastern Caribbean Sea tonight and Thursday. An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the system again later this morning.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...high...90 percent
* Formation chance through 5 days...high...90 percent"
With advanced technology and the ability to pinpoint potential areas of development before a tropical depression even forms, comes increased exposure and scrutiny on social media. There are pros and cons, the most glaring of which would be hype. In the race to be first and foremost, many outlets bombard the internet with model plots, upper air charts and further analysis – this post not excluded. Often times, the intent is good and aims to provide advanced awareness of an aspect of the forecast warranting further attention. In rare cases, there are malicious attempts to garner retweets and shares. Beware of such posts. If harsh wording is used or a doomsday type of image is shown, this type of post likely comes from more self-serving origins.
What’s the bottom line with Invest 97L/Matthew? As of Wednesday Morning, it is NOT time to worry. This is what I would call, the “awareness period.” Something is out in the tropics; and as a coastal community, we should always stay prepared and know about the range of possibilities that exist. Is this storm going to affect the United States? It is MUCH too early to tell. As is often noted on our broadcasts, until storms develop a closed center of circulation, forecast models do not perform with much skill. Therefore, no single or even group of model plots can be fully trusted. With that being said, it is still close to the peak of hurricane season and the basin has very warm water. So, stay in touch with the forecast and share items on social media responsibly!
For a more in-depth look at this tropical system, check out today’s video weather briefing (advance to 4:15 on the timeline):