There is a high probability that a tropical depression or tropical storm will develop this week over the northern Gulf of Mexico. The National Hurricane Center has given the low pressure located over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico an 90% chance of development over the next 48 hours and an 90% chance of development within the next five days (see Fig. 1). The low is currently located over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico and moving slowly west. The low is forecast to intensify into a possible Tropical Storm by late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
Latest numerical guidance supports the idea of strengthening and development of a Tropical Storm. This Tropical Storm will continue slowly moving west through late week across the northern Gulf of Mexico, and should continue to intensify through Friday. The Euro and GFS have trended slightly east overnight. A majority of the Euro (see Fig. 2) and GFS (see Fig. 3) ensemble members show a projected landfall of a strong topical storm somewhere between the upper-Texas coast and Louisiana by the weekend. The spaghetti plots show a wide spread in projected path (from Florida to Texas); however, there is a clustering in Louisiana (see Fig. 4).
It should be noted, there is a vast deal of uncertainty with the track of this system and it is too early to forecast where this Tropical Storm will make landfall. All areas from Florida to Texas need to remain on high alert this week and begin preparing for tropical storm impacts. With that said, at this point, guidance indicates the Louisiana Coast has the best chance to see a landfalling tropical system on Saturday. Barry is the next name on the list if this low is classified by the National Hurricane Center.
Regardless of the intensity of “Barry”. Heavy rain is likely along the Gulf Coast, which will lead to isolated flooding. Coastal areas from the western Florida to the upper-Texas coast will see 4-10″ of rain (see Fig. 4) this week; inland areas of Alabama, Mississippi, Texas & Louisiana will also see heavy rain. Rain chances will begin today for Florida, Georgia & Alabama then shift west into Mississippi & Louisiana by Wednesday followed by a continued west movement of precipitation into Texas by the weekend. Isolated tornadoes and rip currents are also likely.
As “Barry” moves inland, heavy rain can be expected for interior parts of the country but we will have more updates on this as the track of the tropical low becomes more certain. Keep checking back for updates!
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!