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Atlantic could soon churn out new tropical depression

Conditions in the Atlantic will become conducive for an explosion of tropical activity across the basin later this month.

All has been calm in the tropical Atlantic after Isaias tore a path of destruction along the East Coast last week, but forecasters say that people from the United States to the Caribbean shouldn't let their guard down as conditions will turn conducive for an explosion of activity across the basin later this month.

Prior to the pattern change, meteorologists are keeping a close eye on one area in particular in the Atlantic that bears watching for possible development this week. The zone between Africa and the Windward and Leeward islands -- an area is notorious for generating August tropical storms and hurricanes -- has the greatest potential to spin up a tropical depression this week.

"There are multiple features over the tropical Atlantic waters that we will be keeping an eye on this week and this weekend," AccuWeather's top hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said.

"We expect one feature, in the middle of the Atlantic, to become the next tropical depression at any time now and then could ramp up quickly to a tropical storm prior to the end of this week," he said.

The next name on the list of tropical storms for the Atlantic basin in 2020 is Josephine.

Much of the immediate belt between Africa and the Windward Islands has warm water, moisture and low wind shear -- all factors that favor tropical development.

However, even though this area could be home to the next tropical system this week, there are other hurdles that will limit the lifespan of such a system and barriers that may prevent any system from getting too close to the U.S. over the next week or more.

"There is a vast area of dry air just to the north of this moist corridor," Kottlowski said.

If a system was to develop and turn more to the northwest as a result, it would run into this dry belt and could then unravel rather quickly.

"Any system that develops and manages to survive would encounter significant disruptive wind shear over the Caribbean Sea and near and just north of the northern Caribbean islands," Kottlowski said.

"Still the feature that could become Tropical Depression 11 and perhaps Tropical Storm Josphine is a concern for the Leeward Islands and the Lesser Antilles in general as until the feature fully develops the long term track will be uncertain," Kottlowski added.

There is one other factor that could slow down additional tropical development in the basin in the short-term. "While most of the equatorial zone has water temperatures sufficient for tropical development, there is a patch right along the Africa coast that is relatively cooler and might inhibit development with systems just emerging from the continent," Kottlowski said.

Disturbances, known as tropical waves, often begin over the Indian Ocean and move westward across Africa as complexes of thunderstorms, which often stir up dust storms over the Sahara Desert.

As these waves move westward across the Atlantic Ocean, usually near or just south of the Cabo Verde Islands, a small number can develop spin and evolve into a tropical depression. A smaller number can still strengthen into a tropical storm or hurricane. The disturbances are generally one to three days apart. This Cabo Verde season, as it is called by meteorologists, makes up the backbone of the Atlantic hurricane season.

This week, the two barriers -- dry air to the north of the main development zone in the Atlantic and wind shear over the Caribbean -- could keep systems at bay or shut them down outside of the tropical sweet spot of the central Atlantic through this week. But, the weather pattern is expected to change beyond that, and forecasters are warning that the basin could turn hyperactive.

"Beyond the next seven to 10 days, toward the latter part of August, we expect conditions to become less of a deterrent for tropical systems over the Atlantic," Kottlowski said.

The lid could come off the Atlantic basin with the potential for multiple named systems spinning at the same time, including multiple threats to lives and property at the same time from the Caribbean to North America.

AccuWeather meteorologists are expecting a very active year for tropical storms and hurricanes, perhaps close to the numbers during the historic 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, which yielded a record 28 storms. That year brought several deadly and devastating hurricanes that made landfall, including Emily, Katrina, Wilma and Rita.

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has already set multiple early-season formation records with Cristobal, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna and Isaias. With 2020 so far ahead of the average pace and the basin predicted to heat up, AccuWeather meteorologists upped their forecast for tropical storms and hurricanes for the year in early August.

AccuWeather's updated 2020 forecast is calling for up to 24 tropical storms this year, or double what a typical Atlantic hurricane season generates.

The climatological peak for the Atlantic hurricane season is around Sept. 10.

Meanwhile, in the East Pacific Ocean, Tropical Storm Elida is expected to become the basin's next hurricane as it moves out to sea this week.

Kottlowski is expecting the eastern Pacific to "go wild with tropical activity over the next several weeks" and the Atlantic may follow suit toward the end of August and into the autumn months.