The Atlantic Basin has been fairly quiet thus far this season thanks to strong wind shear and widespread Saharan dust. However, tropical trouble is a possibility for the northern Gulf of Mexico next week. Numerical guidance is flirting with the idea of a tropical cyclone (Barry) developing by mid to late next week in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The latest runs of the European (Euro) continue to suggest tropical development next week in the northern Gulf. The GFS, which had suggested tropical development, has now backed off of this solution.
Currently, a shortwave is digging into western Tennessee (see Fig. 1). This shortwave is expected to continue advancing southeast over the weekend and move into Georgia by Monday (see Fig. 2). It appears a weak surface-low will begin to develop by early next week in response to this shortwave. This low will sit over the northeastern Gulf through mid-week and possibly begin to deepen. By late Wednesday, the Euro suggests the low will deepen and begin to retrograde west across the northern Gulf (see Fig. 3).
The solution from the Euro is possible but it should be noted the Euro solution is an outlier right now. Why is this solution possible? Wind-shear is expected to remain light (see Fig. 4) across the northern Gulf next week paired with anomalously warm sea-surface temperatures in the Gulf (see Fig. 5). These two variables may allow for deepening of the low as it moves west.
By Friday morning, the Euro is suggesting the low will continue to deepen over the north-central Gulf (see Fig. 6) and be well over the warm Gulf waters (limiting iteration with land), which will continue sustaining what would be Barry. The Euro indicates Barry will remain over the north-central Gulf waters through late Saturday before making landfall Saturday evening somewhere along the Mississippi coast (see Fig. 7).
It should be noted, it is entirely too early to forecast a track of this potential tropical cyclone. It is difficult to forecast a track of a tropical cyclone before it has developed. It is possible this disturbance will not acquire tropical characteristics and possible the Euro is over intensifying this low. The Euro is the outlier and the only model showing such a solution (at this time).
Everyone along the Gulf (from east Texas to the Florida Panhandle) should keep abreast to the forecast next week. IF a tropical cyclone developed, any location along the Gulf would have the possibility of seeing impacts. We are not forecasting a landfall in the north-central Gulf–just showing what the Euro is currently suggesting. We will continue to have updates on this fluid situation.
Christopher Nunley is Meteorologist on Firsthand Weather, Lecturer in the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University (MSU), and a PhD Candidate (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) at MSU. He earned his M.S. in Applied Meteorology at MSU, was an Assistant Cross Country Coach and taught at the University of North Texas, and was a Broadcast Meteorologist at KTEN-TV (just north of Dallas, Texas). Christopher’s main focus lies within teaching and inspiring prospective meteorology students, atmospheric research to further our understanding of atmospheric processes, and forecasting and analyzing extreme weather events to help save lives!