Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Tropical Storm Chantal has confounded the experts this week and done little of what was expected.
Now the question is: Will Chantal ever have any impact, even indirect, on the Charlotte region?
"That is not a pleasant thought to consider," says John Tomko, of the National Weather Service's office in Greer, S.C.
On Tuesday, Chantal was a feisty little tropical storm with 65 mph winds and an apparent path toward Hispaniola and Cuba. Forecasters expected the mountains of those two islands to disrupt the storm's circulation, but they thought it would emerge this weekend over the Bahamas as a weak tropical storm.
After that, computer models were pointing Chantal toward the Southeast coast -- possibly South Carolina.
Now all that has changed. As of mid-afternoon Wednesday, it appears as if Chantal no longer exists as a storm with circulation. Air Force hurricane-hunting planes have been flying into the storm area for several hours, and there is no real sign of a closed circulation.
It appears as if Chantal is now just a tropical wave. In the late-morning summary from the National Hurricane Center, meteorologist Lexion Avila said the official forecast is for the system to dissipate by early this weekend.
And, by the way, Chantal won't even cross Hispaniola. It has taken a more westerly track and will miss the island.
That leaves a lot of questions. The moisture from Chantal likely will remain somewhere in the Bahamas or possibly the eastern Gulf of Mexico by late this week.
Computer models predict a weakness in the atmosphere that would allow that moisture to stream northward, but the question is whether there is enough moisture left in the remnants, and exactly where that northward track would be. Would it affect the eastern Carolinas? Charlotte and the western Carolinas? Georgia and Tennessee?
We don't know yet, and weak tropical systems are very difficult to predict.
One thing is for sure ... any moisture from a dying tropical system would be bad news for the water-logged western Carolinas. Areas much farther to the west, where rain is badly needed, would appreciate Chantal's remnants a lot more than we would.
Posted by Steve Lyttle at 2:31 PM