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  • Writer's pictureBryan Norcross

Squalls from Atlantic disturbance moving across the southeast coast while we watch the Gulf

This is an afternoon update to this morning's post.


The center of a small area of low pressure – officially Invest 92L – is slowly moving toward the Georgia coast. Hurricane Hunters took a long look at the system this morning and found it very close to tropical depression or weak tropical storm status. There is a pronounced low-level circulation, but the thunderstorms are well displaced from the center in a large arc that extends from South Carolina to offshore of Saint Augustine, Florida.


It appears unlikely that the system will organize thunderstorms near the center so it can be named a tropical depression or weak Tropical Storm Beryl, though it's not impossible. There are still a few hours before the center makes landfall, but dry air and hostile upper winds are taking their toll. Whether it gets upgraded or not, the gusty squalls are already impacting coastal sections and will continue through the afternoon.


Wind should blow around 20-30 mph at the immediate coast from North Florida to South Carolina, but gusts to around 40 mph are possible in the cells with heavy rain. Surf will be quite rough in the areas with onshore winds.


The onshore breeze we'll let up this evening as the low-pressure system dissipates over the peninsula, although the moisture will linger, so thunderstorms are still in the forecast. While the circulation is over the ocean, the air is being squeezed between the heat-dome high-pressure to the north and the small low-pressure center. That squeeze play is responsible for the gusty winds blowing off the ocean north of the system.


The biggest danger is in the ocean. Swimmers and boaters beware.


Watching the Gulf: It looks likely that the next tropical system will develop in the southern Gulf of Mexico, perhaps as early as tomorrow. The mechanism that created Alberto is still in place. A weak disturbance and moisture surge from the Caribbean is being pulled north into the Gulf by a large low-pressure system over Central America. Under conducive atmospheric conditions, a tropical depression or weak tropical storm is expected to organize in the extreme southern Gulf, where the curved coastline often aids in the development of a circulation.


The National Hurricane Center is giving this system a good chance of organizing into at least a tropical depression. Like with Alberto, it appears that the circulation will be quite broad, which usually means strengthening comes slowly. The various forecast models show it tracking over the Gulf for two days or less, so the current thinking is that the system will not have time to get as strong as Tropical Storm Alberto. It might never reach tropical-storm strength. A strong high-pressure system across the southern US should block any movement to the north toward the US Gulf coast.


Whatever the strength, heavy rain is likely next week in parts of northeastern Mexico. Most of the country has been experiencing a serious drought, so rain is welcome. Although areas around the large city of Monterrey, just south of Laredo, Texas, got too much rain all at once from Tropical Storm Alberto.


Onshore winds and tropical rains are likely in South Texas once again, but not at the intensity they saw with Alberto. Any rain there is still beneficial since the entire southern part of the state is still drier than normal.


It's important to remember that forecasts for systems that have not yet developed are always subject to change, so we'll keep that in mind.


Nothing is showing up in the long-range forecasts to be concerned about. So once these systems are inland, we should be calm for a while.



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