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Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico areas to watch for tropical storms

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Historically, hurricane season peaks about Sept. 10, activity typically in top gear leading into October. But this year’s hyperactive September came screeching to a halt Friday, when Teddy and Beta in the Atlantic and Lowell in the Pacific fizzled or lost tropical characteristics entirely. Since then, the world’s oceans have been virtually silent. But they won’t be for long.

A large zone of rising air at mid-to-upper levels of the atmosphere will soon overspread the Atlantic from the west, at the same time as global circulations favor an uptick in shower and thunderstorm activity. The two factors could overlap to bring about a renewal in tropical busyness.

An area to watch

The National Hurricane Center is already monitoring one area in the northwest Caribbean that could prove problematic in the coming week. The center estimates a 50-percent chance that tropical development will occur sometime in the next five days.

A strip of clumped thunderstorm activity can be seen on satellite north of Venezuela, west of the Lesser Antilles, associated with a weak westward-moving wave at the mid-levels of the atmosphere. The system is rather diffuse, but models hint that a more concentrated lobe of vorticity, or spin, could consolidate along its southern flank.

Uncertainty is a bit greater than normal when it comes to this system, which will probably arrive north of Honduras in the extreme northwest Caribbean by Friday. After that, the details become hazy.

If that blob of spin ends up forming along the central or northern part of that axis of disturbed weather, then the system could latch onto steering currents that would eventually bring it west of Cuba and perhaps into the Gulf of Mexico. But if it becomes established farther south, the system could end up being steered into the Yucatán Peninsula and becoming