AccuWeather hurricane experts are putting portions of the northeastern Caribbean on alert for a strengthening Tropical Storm Lee.

On Monday, AccuWeather became the first source to issue a forecast track map for a tropical wave pushing across the central tropical Atlantic which was expected to develop over the next day or so. As this wave traveled through warm waters Tuesday morning, it strengthened to Tropical Depression 13. At 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center named the storm Tropical Storm Lee. The system is forecast to continue to move across the main development region of the Atlantic Ocean over the upcoming week, eventually intensifying into the basin’s next hurricane.

Factors that will impact strengthening

“Throughout the upcoming week, Tropical Storm Lee will track through an environment with low wind shear, ample moisture and ocean temperatures several degrees above the threshold for tropical development (roughly 80 degrees Fahrenheit). There is not a lot of dry air present across the tropical Atlantic that this feature will have to deal with, which will help it to get its act together,” explained AccuWeather Tropical Meteorologist Alex DaSilva.

Strong wind shear values can quickly tear apart organized tropical systems or fight against storms trying to form. A lack of vertical wind shear is optimal for strengthening and tropical formation, and that shear looks to remain low across the western and central Atlantic for at least the next seven days.

Under these combined conditions, this corridor of the Atlantic waters is primed for helping a storm gain organization and strength. However, meteorologists are taking note of one element that could fight against this storm: sinking air.

The downward vertical motion would suppress cloud formation and ultimately curb how quickly a tropical cyclone can develop, similar to how sinking air associated with high pressure promotes clear skies and calm weather rather than supporting the formation of clouds and thunderstorms.

“Areas of sinking air across the Atlantic could inhibit how fast this feature will initially develop. However, this factor by itself should not hinder much after early this week and the other factors supporting development will take over,” stated DaSilva.

The potential path of the storm

Once this tropical wave organizes into what is the most likely Lee-name candidate, AccuWeather meteorologists say that it can take on a general westward track toward the eastern Caribbean Islands.