Tropical Depression 16 formed earlier today down in the Central American region of the Caribbean. Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for portions of Nicaragua and Honduras at this time with the expectation that 16 will strengthen into the next named storm, which would be Nate.
Current environmental conditions are good for development. 16 is sitting in an area of low shear and the sea surface temperatures in the region are very warm.
With the lone exception of colder waters along the coastlines, water temperatures are a warm 29 degrees Celsius over much of the Gulf of Mexico. The one inhibiting factor in all of this, will be the land interactions that 16 will make. Landfall is expected along Nicaragua and Honduras, and even if 16 does not make another landfall, he will still pass close to the Yucatan Peninsula and Western Cuba before entering the gulf. These interactions could prevent major intensification before the gulf.
Hurricane Hunter aircraft did perform a recon mission earlier today, showing a closed and well defined center of circulation. While there isn’t much deep convection near the center, tropical banding is strong with this system.
Once in the gulf, 16 is forecast to become a hurricane. The current forecast brings what would be Hurricane Nate towards the Florida Panhandle, as shown below, but anywhere from Louisiana to Northern Florida should be watching this system. Current model tracks have a wide area due to the impact of a tropical low that moves past Florida. This low is given a small chance to develop into a tropical system itself, but the strength of this feature will play a role in the future track of 16.
Early preparations should begin soon for those along the gulf coast. Having a few extra batteries or a bottle of water around is never a bad thing and it’s much better for everyone if they are purchased in advance. Stores will place larger orders for products if people are buying them.