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  • Writer's pictureBryan Norcross

The tropics are heating up – at least two storms are expected to be named in the next week

Now that we are close to the peak two months of the hurricane season, the historical odds of having a tropical storm develop go up significantly. It appears that Mother Nature is playing the odds because the tropics are starting to buzz.

Tropical Disturbance #1 is a weak system, but a clear spin has developed in the southern Caribbean just north of the Colombian coast. The latest computer forecast models are warning that it could be a threat to the Texas or Louisiana coast next week.

As with all disorganized or developing systems, forecasts are subject to change until the center is well defined, but it is interesting and somewhat worrisome that so many of the models are suddenly indicating that the system could track between Mexico and Cuba into the northwestern Gulf. If it did that, it could avoid the weakening effects of tracking over land.

The well-defined upper-level low over the Bahamas is a player in the track and intensity of the disturbance. The upper low is forecast to drift over Florida increasing the moisture and thunderstorm activity over the peninsula through tomorrow. As it moves west and dies out, high pressure from the Atlantic will push across Florida into the Gulf, which should lift the disturbance out of the Caribbean to the northwest toward the Texas, Louisiana, or Mexico coast.

There are no indications this system would be a threat to Florida.

When the disturbance, or whatever it becomes, reaches the warm waters of the Gulf late in the weekend or early next week, the long-range computer forecast models indicate that the upper winds might be conducive for strengthening. The storm wouldn’t have a lot of time over the western Gulf, but storms can intensify quickly over those very warm waters.

People from New Orleans around the western Gulf coast to Mexico should be sure to stay informed.

Tropical Disturbance #2 is forecast to move into an environment that should support strengthening in a few days, so the National Hurricane Center is giving it a good chance to develop into at least a tropical depression. It’s expected to stay well away from land.

The next two names on the list are Ida and Julian. If Disturbance #1 and #2 become tropical storms with winds of at least 40 mph, those will be their names. Right now, of course, there’s no way to know which one will develop first.

Tropical Disturbance #3 is much less likely to develop, but we always watch systems in that part of the Atlantic this time of year. It would have to fight off the Saharan dust and somewhat hostile upper winds to turn into an organized system.

The Saharan dust is sticking around unusually long this year. The upper-level low east of the Bahamas that will move over Florida in the next couple days should help break up the dust layer, but the long-range dust models keep it coming. That’s a bit of a wild card as tropical activity ramps up.

The dust doesn’t necessarily stop development, but it can hinder strengthening. We’ll see.

For now, our focus is on the western Gulf.


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