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  • Writer's pictureBryan Norcross

Watching a weak disturbance in the northern Gulf of Mexico

The National Hurricane Center is making note of a weak disturbance currently centered offshore well south of New Orleans. It’s producing areas of heavy rain along the north-central Gulf coast.

An old front just inland across the south has bottled up very humid air in the Gulf coastal sections from Louisiana to Florida. In the middle levels of the atmosphere, a disturbance is tapping into the moisture to produce the tropical downpours.

Over the next couple of days, the mid-level disturbance is forecast to drift toward the mid to lower Texas coast pulling moisture along with it. Heavy rain is forecast for South Texas over the weekend, and perhaps extending into Monday. It has been very dry there lately, so the rain will be welcome, up to a point.

Too much rain may come at once, however. Some areas of flooding are possible if the tropical downpours track over the same spots one after the other. There will be a lot of moisture in the atmosphere.

There is a slight chance a surface circulation could develop before the disturbance reaches the Texas coast, which is why the National Hurricane Center is indicating a potential development zone on the map. It’s unlikely that more than a tropical depression would develop, which wouldn’t make much difference to the heavy-rain scenario that will be in place even if no organized circulation can generate.

Sometimes, a concentration of thunderstorms over the warm waters of the Gulf can trigger a tropical system to form. If it happens, it would likely be very short-lived.

In the Atlantic, Saharan dust continue to dominate the atmosphere. Disturbances are forecast to move off Africa, but the atmospheric environment over the ocean is not supportive of any significant development, for now.

On average, the odds of Atlantic systems developing significantly picks up in about a week or 10 days. We’ll see.

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