NEXT WEEK: tropical system and cold fronts
Beyond an evening of showers and thunderstorms, a weak cold front will clear the area to set up a dry, comfortable weekend. Once again, Gulf Coast residents are monitoring the tropics as a disturbance churning near Cuba is likely to develop.
The Next 24 Hours: Some needed rain fell over the area on Friday afternoon and a cold front chugging across Louisiana and Mississippi could bring one more band of rain tonight. Beyond that, temperatures should fall into the upper 60s. The front will stall off the Gulf Coast on Saturday, but it is expected to be far enough south that humidity will drop a few notches. With highs in the upper 70s, look for partly sunny skies; there could be a stray shower near the coast.
After That: Sunday and Monday should be quiet with partly to mostly sunny afternoons, highs in the low to mid 80s and lows in the 60s. By Tuesday, several factors will come into play. First, a tropical disturbance in the eastern Gulf of Mexico could be spewing some moisture toward the local area. Second, a pair of fronts will be approaching the area. As long as the currently expected timing of the fronts holds (Tuesday and Thursday) the local area should avoid a direct impact. However, the first frontal system will take a track that could favor some stronger thunderstorms. Needless to say, all of this is worth keeping an eye on into next week. By Friday and Saturday, a second cold front may pass through to deliver some cooler air.
The Tropics: A broad area of low pressure in the western Caribbean Sea has become better defined. Environmental conditions appear conducive for further development, and there is a 70 percent chance that a tropical depression will form during the next day or two while the low drifts toward the northwest.
As of 4pm Friday, Hurricane Epsilon was northeast of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of 85mph. The storm will continue to accelerate northeast and out to sea eventually becoming a powerful post-tropical low.
The Explanation: As a weak cold front moves southeast of the local area on Saturday morning, some slightly cooler and drier air will take hold. Forecast models for Saturday into Sunday have come in quite a bit cooler than yesterday so it now looks as though there will be a 24-hour period of near average temperatures. Quiet weather will persist through Monday as winds slowly turn around to the southeast, pump Gulf moisture back into the area and restore above average temperatures. By Tuesday, a plethora of scenarios becomes possible as an upper level low and associated cold fronts will move toward our area as a tropical disturbance churns in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. Before discussing the possibilities, always remember that until a system actually forms, forecast models offer poor guidance. However, understanding the rest of the atmosphere at that time can give us some clues as to the most likely outcomes. Both major global forecast models show a frontal system across the Lower Midwest on Tuesday. Wednesday into Thursday, a strong upper level trough of low pressure is expected to move across Texas into Louisiana driving a cold front through the local area. The upper level trough and cold front would both push the tropical system to the east. It currently appears that the system will meander near Cuba for a few days, which should mean that as long as the trough and front arrive by about Wednesday, the system should be shunted east. So, if the tropical disturbance accelerates northward, or the frontal system slows, the local area is very much in play to deal with it. The bottom line is, despite our early thoughts, a lot can change in a few days so continue to check in for the latest forecasts.
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