Christopher Nunley

Christopher is the co-founder of Firsthand Weather. He studied Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma followed by earning his Master of Science in Applied Meteorology and Ph.D. in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences from Mississippi State University. Christopher is currently the Chief Meteorologist at KAGS TV and is a Lecturer at Mississippi State University. Christopher's research focuses on the communication of weather information and the response of individuals during high-impact weather. He has published research in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society and the Southeastern Geographer.

Tropical Depression Two develops off the North Carolina Coast

Tropical Depression Two (TD2) developed off the North Carolina Coast Monday. TD2 has winds of 35 mph and is moving northeast at 21 mph. TD2 is forecast to intensify throughout the day into Tropical Storm Bill with sustained winds of 50 mph by Tuesday morning.

The northeast movement will steer TD2 away from the United States coast. Impacts are forecast to be minimal for North Carolina and the East Coast. A few rain showers and storms are possible for coastal parts of North Carolina but the main impacts will be rough seas for North Carolina and the East Coast. If you have any beach plans, be aware of rip currents and follow all rules by local officials.

Tropical Storm may develop in the Gulf of Mexico next week

The National Hurricane Center is monitoring the southwestern Gulf of Mexico for tropical development over the next several days. A low pressure is forecast to develop, which may acquire tropical characteristics, developing into a Tropical Depression or Tropical Storm. The National Hurricane Center gives this system a 40% chance to develop into a Tropical Depression or Storm over the next 5 days.

An area of showers and thunderstorms is forecast to develop over the weekend into early next week in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. This area of thunderstorms will start to observe a lowering of pressure as the system starts to strengthen over the coming days. 

As the system continues to organize, it may develop into a well-defined low pressure by the middle of next week in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. At this point, the low pressure may acquire tropical characteristics, developing into a Tropical Depression or Tropical Storm. 

The low, possibly tropical, by the end of the week will approach the Gulf States from late week into the weekend. There are too many questions to pinpoint where this system may move inland so all areas from Texas to Florida should keep a close eye on the forecast over the coming days. 

This forecast is fluid with quite a bit of uncertainty. A tropical system may not even develop, but regardless of development, tropical moisture and associated rain may move into the Gulf States by next weekend. Recent heavy rains across Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi could lead to an increased flash flood concern if rain associated with this system impacts the region. 

Tropical development possible in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico over the next week or two

The official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1st and the tropics appear to heat up by the end of the second week of June. All eyes are on the western Caribbean and southwestern Gulf of Mexico from late next week into the following week for tropical development. The timeframe to monitor is June 10th through June 15th.

Forecast models have consistently indicated the possibility of tropical development in this region for a few days, so this has heightened awareness of this possibility. Diving deeper into the setup, it does appear a favorable environment supports this idea as the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) transitions into a wetter phase over the Caribbean. The MJO in this phase would favor the development of thunderstorm activity over the Caribbean, lowering the surface pressure, which would have the possibility to further strengthen into a low pressure that could develop into a tropical cyclone. This is why the forecast models have indicated a setup favorable for tropical development is on the horizon. 

The area of thunderstorms over the Caribbean late next week will be over warm waters. Water temperatures are favorable for the development and strengthening of tropical cyclones in this region. In the Gulf of Mexico, water temperatures have risen into the 80s. Water temperatures this warm will support tropical activity. As the area of thunderstorms, and associated lower pressures, moves into the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. It will have the opportunity to develop into a tropical cyclone due to the warm waters and forecasted lower wind shear. Wind shear, while great for severe thunderstorms, is not idea for tropical systems, so the lower wind shear over the Gulf will help assist in tropical development by mid-June. 

Looking back on the history of June tropical systems, this is an area that has “spawned” tropical cyclones, so this setup and timeframe will need to be monitored closely. Another concern is, if a system develops in the western Caribbean or southwestern Gulf of Mexico, it has a higher probability of impacting the United States. These systems typically move into the Gulf States. All interests from Texas to Florida should keep an eye on the forecast over the coming days. 

There is still high uncertainty in this setup and the forecast is fluid. It is no guarantee that a tropical system will develop but the setup does raise eyebrows. Keep checking back for updates. 

How to protect your furry loved ones as the temperatures continue to climb

Temperatures have been warm to hot for a good chunk of the lower-48 at some point this season and everyone will experience the summer-like heat over the coming weeks. With the summer heat, comes summer time off and many like to spend their time outdoors with their furry loved ones.

It is important to remember, as the temperatures climb, you need to protect your pets from the heat. It is easy to forget how quickly pavement heats up during the warm months. When temperatures climb into the mid-80s, your pets are already a danger when walking them on concrete and asphalt. The temperature of paved surfaces climbs between 105 to 130-degrees when air temperatures are in the mid-80s. Add an additional 10-degrees to the air temperatures (mid-9os) and those pavement temperatures climb between 140 to 155-degrees! Temperatures this hot on pavement will quickly burn the paws of your furry loved ones in just seconds.

The reason pavement temperatures are hotter than the air temperature is because these surfaces absorb heat fast compared to grassy surfaces. It is safest to walk your furry loved ones in the grass as temperatures continue to climb.

There is a test you can do to check the heat of the pavement to determine if it is too hot for paws. Touch the pavement with the back of your hand for 7-seconds. If the temperature of the pavement is hot on your hand, it is too hot for your pets. It is also important to remember to bring your pets inside or provide them with adequate shelter as temperatures continue to climb, and ensure your furry loved ones have plenty of water.

Tropical system developing in the Gulf of Mexico

Monitoring an area of disturbed weather over the western Gulf of Mexico for possible tropical development Friday. This area of disturbed weather has gradually experienced a drop in pressure with increasing shower and thunderstorm coverage throughout Thursday into Friday. With the slow organization of this area of low pressure, recent model guidance continues to indicate the possibility of this developing into a low-end tropical system late-Friday.

Make sure you become a Firsthand Weather Supporter today for exclusive weather content and to help fund Firsthand Weather. Click on the link below.

The environmental conditions do favor the possibility of tropical development. Atmospheric wind shear is minimal over the western Gulf of Mexico along with warm water temperatures. The Gulf of Mexico water temperatures have continued to warm through May and are now in the upper-70s & lower-80s. This would support tropical development. 

The National Hurricane Center is monitoring this area of low pressure over the western Gulf of Mexico and has increased the chance for tropical development to 40% Friday. 

A building upper-level high over the Southeast will help steer this low pressure north Friday, spreading deep moisture and heavy rain into southeastern and coastal Texas as well as coastal Louisiana. These areas have already received excessive rainfall amounts over the past week so heavy rain will increase the flood threat. The intensifying low pressure would act to increase the tornado potential along the upper-Texas coast late-Friday.  

Regardless of tropical development, the low pressure will spread heavy rain into southeastern and coastal Texas and coastal Louisiana Friday. If the low pressure gains tropical characteristics, it would likely remain weak–becoming a Tropical Depression or weak Tropical Storm, making landfall late-Friday along the upper-Texas coast. The 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st. 

Subtropical system may develop in Atlantic

A broad area of low pressure northeast of Bermuda, in the North Atlantic, has a chance to develop into a subtropical system as it moves west-southwest over the next few days. The area of low pressure will begin to strengthen as it moves into a favorable environment with less wind shear and warmer ocean temperatures.

This environment may allow for a brief window of intensification into a subtropical system, possibly becoming the first subtropical storm of the season. The National Hurricane Center gives this broad area of low pressure a 90% chance for development into a subtropical system over the next five days.

If this system develops, it would become Ana. ‘Ana’ is expected to eventually turn north, moving into cooler waters and an atmosphere with high wind shear. This will quickly weaken ‘Ana’ and keep the system from impacting the U.S. Keep in mind, the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st.

Summer-like heat this week for the eastern-half of the country

A pattern change in the upper-levels of the atmosphere will deliver the first true taste of summer to a good chunk of the country east of the Mississippi River. A potent upper-level ridge will build and intensify over the Southeast this week, with is grip extending north into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

Join the Firsthand Weather Supporter Group for exclusive weather content and to help fund FHW.

Ridges typically lead to relatively dry and warm to hot temperatures as sinking air occurs beneath the ridge. This will be no different this week. The ridge will build across the eastern-half of the country through the week, which will send temperatures well above average. Temperatures will run a good ten to twenty degrees above average, with some areas flirting with record high temperatures.

Notice the images below, show the ridge building and intensifying from the beginning of the week, into mid-week, and into late week. This means temperatures will continue to climb and reach the hottest levels by the end of the week when the ridge is at its strongest. The ridge is depicted by the white-ish/pink-ish colors surging north across the East Coast.

Ridge early week
Ridge mid-week
Ridge late week

Temperatures early week will be warm, but the hottest temperatures will begin Wednesday and continue into Saturday for the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast. Widespread 80s and 90s can be expected.

Wednesday forecast high temperatures
Thursday forecast high temperatures
Friday forecast high temperatures
Saturday forecast high temperatures

While rain chances will remain low, humidity will be high which will lead to a few areas seeing heat indices climb into the 100s across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Friday and Saturday. Make sure you’re staying hydrated, and never leave the pets and kiddos in the cars. The ridge does appear to shift west late-weekend into the following week, which will allow temperatures to slowly decrease a few degrees.

Below are the forecast high and low temperatures for a few select cities:

Atlanta, GA
Columbia, SC
Raleigh, NC
Chattanooga, TN
Richmond, VA

Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Tropical Outlook for the upcoming week

May 15th marks the first day of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issuing routine tropical outlooks for the Gulf of Mexico, North Atlantic, and Caribbean Sea. The NHC is not expecting tropical cyclone formation during the next five days.

While the NHC is not forecasting any development of tropical cyclones over the next five days, numerical guidance has hinted at the possibility of tropical or subtropical development in the northern Gulf of Mexico in about seven days. The chances of this are low, but it is something to keep an eye on for the Gulf States. If a system were to develop, it would likely be unorganized and weak. However, May system can be efficient rain producers. This will be monitored over the coming days so keep checking back for updates.

Keep a close eye on the Gulf as May is growing increasingly tropically active

The Gulf of Mexico water temperatures continue to slowly increase as we move closer to Summer. Temperatures have risen into the 70s and 80s, which is a touch above average for the majority of the Gulf. The one exception is just off the coast of Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle where water temperatures are running a tad below average.

Overall, however, temperatures have recovered quite a bit from the February Arctic outbreak. The cold outbreak led to water temperatures significantly below average across the northwestern Gulf of Mexico to start Spring. This undoubtedly had a drastic impact on severe weather across the Plains. The water temperatures, as aforementioned however, have finally recovered.

This is a growing concern because we are just days away from the start of the Atlantic Hurricane season, which starts June 1st. Cold fronts that move south, will have the capability to stall over the norther and central Gulf of Mexico over the next couple of weeks, leading to the development of tropical cyclones.

Despite the official June start date, May cannot be slept on. In 2020, there were two preseason storms. Arthur developed in the middle of May while Bertha developed during the end of May. Over the past decade (2011-2020), ten preseason storms have developed, which is the most in modern record-keeping.

The 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season is forecast to be above average. This coming off the most active hurricane season on record with 30-named storms and 6 hurricanes hitting the United States. One of the most well-known and prestigious outlooks was released several weeks ago. Colorado State University announced its 2021 Atlantic basin seasonal hurricane forecast and is expecting an above average season with 17 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. A major hurricane is classified as a Category 3 or stronger. What is most concerning about the forecast is that experts anticipate an above average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the U.S. coastline and in the Caribbean. 

Heavy rain and storms leads to flash flooding this week in the South

Scattered to numerous storms are in the forecast for parts of the South and Southeast this as a cold front stalls then moves very slowly across the region. The cold front, paired with a few upper-level disturbances, will allow for several rounds of showers and storms across the region, leading to areas of excessive rainfall through mid-week.

The rain potential is concerning due to the slow moving nature of the cold front I) allowing numerous storms to move over the same areas, II) high amounts of atmospheric moisture allowing for heavy rainfall rates, and III) recent heavy rainfall across the region. The aforementioned variables will lead to a risk of flash flooding from Texas, east into Georgia.

Tuesday’s flood risk extends from western Texas, through the Mid-South, into Alabama. Spot areas of flash flooding are possible for these areas. A higher flood risk exists from central Texas, into southern Arkansas, northern and central Louisiana, into central Mississippi. If you live in a low-lying, flood-prone area, make sure you’re aware of your surroundings and stay up-to-date with the latest forecast. Never cross a roadway covered by water.

Tuesday’s flood risk

The flood risk continues on Wednesday but shifts farther south and east. The flood risk will extend from coastal Texas, through central and southern Louisiana, into southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, and southwestern Georgia.

Wednesday’s flood risk

While the rainfall amounts don’t look overly impressive, due to the rate at which the rain will fall, paired with the saturated grounds, flash flooding will be realized for parts of the region. Widespread rain accumulations of 2-3″ will fall from central Texas, east into Louisiana, southern Arkansas, Mississippi, central and southern Alabama, and southern Georgia. Isolated amounts up to 6″ are possible.

Rainfall forecast Southern Plains

Rainfall forecast Mid-South and Southeast

Rain will begin across the Southern Plains and Mid-South early-Tuesday and continue through Wednesday. The rain threat will shift into the Southeast late-Tuesday and continue into early-Thursday. While the flood risk is lower for the Carolinas, a good soaking is in the forecast with many areas picking up close to 1″.