Tropical weather outlook

Forecasters are watching three developing tropical systems, one of which could become Tropical Storm Isaac. (National Hurricane Center / August 20, 2012)

There is an 80 percent chance Tropical Storm Isaac will have formed near the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea by Wednesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

It's still too early to predict the storm's track, but weather-watching enthusiasts are discussing the possibility that it could make a turn toward the north and impact the East Coast.

It's also possible it could move toward the Gulf of Mexico states or the Yucatan Peninsula, or that it could disintegrate thanks to dry air and high wind shear, of course.

The hurricane center's forecast as of 2 p.m. says that while the storm has become better defined over the past few hours, it has "limited" shower and thunderstorm activity. Conditions are nevertheless conducive to a tropical depression forming over the next day or so, according to the forecast.

AccuWeather blogger Eliot Abrams shared a map in a blog post this morning indicating a high possibility of the storm tracking up the East Coast, making landfall in North Carolina or somewhere north. But, he emphasized, the map is not to be considered a forecast, just a model.

Weather Underground's Jeff Masters, meanwhile, guesses the most likely points of landfall on the Yucatan or Florida's Gulf coast. But there are factors that could pull it north, he said. Historically, storms in the same position as this one have a 10 percent chance of making landfall in North Carolina and a 20 percent chance of making landfall in Canada, according to this analysis of tropical cyclone track probabilities.

Hurricane center forecasters are also tracking two other systems, one along Mexico's Gulf coast, the other off the west African coast. Both have 30 percent odds of becoming tropical storms within two days.

Have a weather question? E-mail me at sdance@baltsun.com or tweet to @MdWeather.