BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Tropical Storm Harvey has formed in the Atlantic, but before it got to that point, it was a PTC, a Potential Tropical Cyclone.
The "Potential Tropical Cyclone" (PTC) designation is new this hurricane season and has been called an unnecessary added layer of confusion by some.
However, there is a good reason for the new PTC designation: it indicates that the National Hurricane Center (NHC) believes that the identified tropical disturbance has a high likelihood of becoming a tropical cyclone within 48 hours. Remember, a tropical cyclone includes anything from a tropical depression up to a hurricane.
So why label disturbances as PTCs? This allows the NHC to begin posting tropical watches and warnings ahead of time for those systems that are deemed likely to become tropical cyclones in relatively short order and have an impact in coastal areas.
In the past, no watches or warnings were issued for tropical disturbances (below depression stage) even if all forecast indicators showed that the system would be a tropical storm or hurricane before a potential impending landfall.
In some ways, it all sounds like a fair amount of technical red tape, and it is, but the newly defined designation of PTC resolves any watch or warning dilemmas for systems forecast to make a coastal hit.
Storms over open water and more than 48 hours away from a potential landfall will not be classified as PTCs.