Late evening hurricane reconnaissance aircraft continues to fly passes through Chantal, but an interesting thing is going on: There does not seem to be any significant west wind near the center.
If this really is a tropical storm, it oughta have a closed circulation, that is, winds should spiral in from all directions. And for the moment, that is not the case.
There are some respectable 50-mph winds near the center of the cloud mass, and that is not to be ignored, but the steering winds will likely take this close to (perhaps over) Hispanola, making intensification more difficult.
Not to mention the nasty wind shear downstream of Chantal right now. Recall that wind shear (changing of wind speed and direction with increasing height) is the death knell of a tropical system. Thanks to David Bernard at WFOR-TV in Miami for the shear graphic below.
The track forecast past Friday is problematic. Right now, the best guess is the system, whatever it is called by then, will be a hundred miles or so off the east coast of Florida on Saturday afternoon. By Sunday afternoon, it would be just off the coast of Savannah, GA.
Track forecasts are only so accurate, and it is important to remember the storm is not a singular point. So, some wiggle room is expected… by 100-200 miles.
If going to the beach this weekend, there is another issue, and that is a stalled front which is going to hang up in eastern Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Even without Chantal approaching, we expect there to be numerous showers and thunderstorms at all beaches from Myrtle Beach through Virginia Beach on Saturday.
If Chantal stays on the forecast heading, her rainfall could enhance what would already be falling along the front, but not until Sunday.
So what happens?
The entire meteorological community feels strongly that Chantal will not rapidly spin up into a hurricane over its life span, so wind impacts do not seem substantial.
Heavy rain… and perhaps… flooding would be more of a concern on Sunday at the beach locations. Winds, while not strong, will turn onshore, meaning there could be some modest coastal flooding in addition to flooding from rainfall. Again, this is not a done deal, but many of those elemental pieces are on the proverbial table. It is only a question of putting them together in the last 24-36 hours leading to Sunday.
So, no. This would not be my ideal trip to the beach. But, I do not foresee evacuations at any coastal locations at this time.
Whether you should cancel a trip to the beach is largely a personal decision… depending on what you hope to accomplish… or not accomplish there.
What would you do?
I’d wait and make a decision on Thursday afternoon. But I am glad that I have not scheduled trip there this weekend.
Whether the storm enhances rainfall in Central, Southside, or Southwestern Virginia early next week is still an open question, but right now, we are leaning toward no.
For more consistent updates on Myrtle Beach weather, follow my friend Ed Piotrowski who works at ABC15 there.
Update 11:15pm Tuesday.
A note from NHC forecasters regarding the lack of west wind near the center. Apparently, they were unable to sufficiently sample the area around the circulation: