Tropical depression expected to form Thursday
10 P.M. UPDATE: The National Hurricane Center is expecting a tropical depression to form Thursday over the northern Gulf of Mexico. Conditions appear favorable for this system to strengthen to a hurricane that will bring storm surge, rainfall, and wind hazards to the central Gulf Coast.
A dangerous storm surge is possible in portions of southern and southeastern Louisiana where a Storm Surge Watch is in effect. Additional storm surge watches may be needed on Thursday.
A Hurricane Watch remains in effect for much of the Louisiana coast and additional tropical storm or hurricane watches and warnings could be needed on Thursday. The slow movement of this system will result in a long duration of heavy rainfall along the central Gulf Coast and inland through the lower Mississippi Valley through the weekend, and possibly into next week. Flash flooding and river flooding will become increasingly likely.
Today and Tonight: After 12 relatively dry days, conditions will be changing rapidly through the next several days. Today is the first day of several that scattered showers and storms will be the norm. Rain chances will be increasing through the afternoon hours, with showers and storms lingering through the evening until about 10 PM. Rainfall amounts are expected between .5” and 1” through this evening. Storms will be strong, and potentially reaching severe status through the afternoon and evening. Temperatures will be cooler today due to the enhanced cloud cover and showers, with highs peaking near 91° with winds out of the northwest between 5 and 10 mph. Cloudy conditions continue tonight, as lows bottom out near 76° with light winds out of the north.
Up Next: Rain chances continue to increase through the rest of the week, before slowly tapering off early next week. Rainfall amounts are expected between 4” and 9” through Tuesday, but could be higher depending on the potential tropical system’s intensity and track over the weekend.
The Tropics: A broad low pressure area located over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico about 100 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, is producing widespread cloudiness and disorganized showers and thunderstorms. Environmental conditions are conducive for development of this system, and a tropical depression is expected to form late today or Thursday while the low moves slowly westward across the northern Gulf of Mexico. An Air Force Reserve Unit reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the disturbance this afternoon. This system could produce storm surge and tropical storm or hurricane force winds across portions of the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Upper Texas coasts later this week, and interests there should closely monitor its progress. In addition, this disturbance has the potential to produce very heavy rainfall from the Upper Texas Coast to the Florida Panhandle. Currently, weather models are in better agreement with path and intensity, but the main models have swapped. This is rather common, but it also suggests gaining confidence with the forecast. Things could change especially since the Air Force will be sending a recon plane into the storms later today, so it is imperative to stay up-to-date with developments. The National Hurricane Center forecast a 90% of tropical formation in the next 2 days, and n 90% chance in the next 5 days.
Thunderstorms are expected today, ramping up through the afternoon and into the evening until around 10 PM. Some of these storms could be quite strong to severe with damaging winds, heavy rain, and lightning being the main hazards. Rain coverage and amounts increase as we proceed into Thursday as the potential tropical system nears out coast from the southwest. Bands of showers and storms will traverse our area from east to west through the day, which will continue through Friday as well. Models are suggesting this system could gain tropical storm status or weak hurricane status as it moves west across the northern Gulf of Mexico. Rainfall amounts from today to Monday are expected to be 6” to 12”, but these could increase after the recon airplane gathers more information later today. A flash flood watch will likely be issued with this system and cleaning drainage systems should be rushed to be done. There will also be coastal flooding issues associated with this system as well. Tide levels are expected to be greater than 2 feet above normal starting late Thursday and lasting through the weekend. There is also a good probability that a storm surge watch or warning will be issued for this event as well. It is important to stay updated on this storm’s potential to gain tropical characteristics, and its forecast track that should be more defined later this evening. Stay Tuned.
--Meteorologist Matt Callihan
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