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It is becoming more likely that the North Atlantic tropical season will begin to heat up over several days (this weekend into next week). Numerical guidance, over the past several days, has indicated an area of disturbed weather across the western Caribbean will slowly organize into a confined area of low pressure as it crosses the Yucatan Peninsula (this weekend) and enters the southern Gulf of Mexico (early next week). This has prompted the National Hurricane Center to monitor this area closely in which the NHC has given this feature a 50% chance of development into a tropical cyclone over the next five days.
Area being monitored by the NHC
What happens next and why?
This is the time (early next week) when the guidance diverges and uncertainty becomes high. There are a two possible scenarios: (I) the low is shunted near-due-westward towards the coast of Mexico/southern Texas, or (II) the low moves northeastward towards the coast of Alabama/Florida. The track of the low is heavily dependent upon the position of the mid-level ridge across the southwestern United States, the strength of the Bermuda High, and the evolution of the trough digging across the northeastern United States next week.
The European model is showing the low pressure developing in the southern Gulf of Mexico by early next week and moving towards the west of west-northwest. This particular scenario the European is painting is due to the the trough not being as elongated, which does not create a weakness along the southeastern coast. This would mean the low would move west to west-northwest impacting the coast of Mexico and southern Texas likely causing heavy rain, rough seas, and the potential of strong winds (depending on the strength of the low). It should be noted the European is weaker with the low than the GFS-Parallel and Canadian, but numerical guidance strength this early in the game should be taken with a grain of salt.
European 500mb map (Tuesday morning)
The GFS-Parallel and Canadian show the low pressure moving towards the northeast as it approaches the coast of Alabama/Florida. This particular scenario the GFS and Canadian are painting is due to the the trough digging into the eastern United States elongating and creating a weakness along the southeastern United States. This would mean the low would move northeast impacting the Southeast (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina) likely causing heavy rain, rough seas, and the potential of strong winds. The heavy rain threat would likely be enhanced across the Southeast if this scenario came to fruition. This is due to a stalled surface cold in the vicinity caused by the elongated trough. It should be noted the GFS-Parallel and Canadian are much deeper with the low as it approaches the southeast (likely a tropical storm), but numerical guidance strength this early in the game should be taken with a grain of salt.
GFS-Parallel 500mb map (Monday evening)
What should you do and when will the evolution become more certain?
While there are uncertainties in the exact evolution and movement of this system, we will gain more insight over the weekend. If you live anywhere along the Gulf Coast, make sure you stay abreast to this fluid forecast and go ahead and begin your tropical season preparations–have a plan in place (which is a good idea for this time of the year). An update will be provided tomorrow!
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