UPDATE: TD#5 is now TS Ernesto. You can watch the forecast and see the full forecast here: TS Ernesto forms
Tropical Depression Five formed Wednesday, east of Barbados in the central Atlantic Ocean and is on a westerly track toward the Caribbean Sea. It looks a little ragged today, but environmental conditions are expected to improve allowing the depression to become at least Tropical Storm Ernesto by the weekend.
11 a.m. Update:
Location: 13.0°N 54.3°W
Moving: W at 20 mph
Min pressure: 1008 mb
Max sustained: 35 mph
T.D. Five currently looks a little ragged, but having said that it does look better than it did overnight. Convection really fell apart by sunrise Thursday morning, but the past six hours have shown a little more convection near the center and visible satellite imagery shows a decent rotation wrapping around the depression's center.
A buoy near the depression is showing winds sustained near 35 mph. It is moving rather quickly to the W-WNW and this general motion is expected to continue, taking it very close to the northern coast of Barbados - surf's up!
Wind shear is affecting the storm today, but forecast models are suggesting those winds will diminish a bit over the next two to three days. The National Hurricane Center believes this is the case and forecasts the depression to become Tropical Storm Ernesto by Friday night.
The extended forecast calls for gradual strengthening as it crosses the Caribbean and heads toward Jamaica, approaching 70 mph sustained winds by Monday.
Historical data shows that storms in the past that have taken a similar track in August tend to move WNW into Mexico or the Western Gulf of Mexico toward Texas.
The latest GFS model suggests Houston, but that will likely change, so stay tuned!