SUNNY, DRY UP HERE; PAULA’S WAY DOWN THERE!

The western Caribbean is a hot spot for hurricane formation!

With sea temperatures measured at 84.4 degrees, the western Caribbean has given birth to tropical storm PAULA, the 16th storm of the 2010 hurricane season. It is located in the trade wind belt to the south of Florida. The subtropical belt of high pressure extends from the Atlantic across north Florida with strong westerly winds in the upper atmosphere. Two earlier models indicated PAULA would be picked up by the westerlies across extreme south Florida on Thursday, but newer data indicates the fronts and upper trough over the eastern U.S. would be too far north to lift Paula into the westerlies.

The five day 5 PM Monday forecast by the National Hurricane Center does not have PAULA moving farther north than latitude 20 through Saturday, thereby keeping PAULA on a slow, clockwise looping track in the western Caribbean Sea. On Sunday and Monday, a high pressure area will build over Georgia to keep “PAULA “trapped” in the western Caribbean south of Cuba through the weekend into the first half of next week.

If PAULA remains over the steamy tropical waters for the next 5 to 8 days, we will continue following it very closely. That area produced hurricane Wilma in 2005. Wilma became a category 5 hurricane near Cancun with a wind gust up to 185 mph. By the time it reached south Florida, it still had winds of 125 mph where it struck near Naples on October 25. Upon reaching the Atlantic coast, Key Biscayne near Miami had a gust to 123 mph.

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