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 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.

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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.

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″.

Tropical Storm Andres develops, plus Atlantic Hurricane Season outlook

Tropical Storm Andres developed in the eastern Pacific Sunday morning. This is the earliest Tropical Storm to develop in recorded history in the eastern Pacific. The system is expected to remain over water and eventually weaken. This is a good reminder that the Atlantic Hurricane Season is right around the corner.

The 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins in just under a month, on June 1st. It is time to begin talking about the tropics and preparing for the upcoming season. 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 frequency of tropical cyclones steadily climbs from May to September 10th. Due to the frequency of tropical activity developing prior to June 1st, the National Hurricane Center will begin issuing tropical outlooks on May 15th. 

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. 

One of the main factors favoring an above average season is the absence of El Niño. El Niño tends to create a hostile environment over the tropical Atlantic, disrupting the development and strengthening of tropical cyclones. Without El Niño, this favors an above average Atlantic season. Another factor favoring an above average season is warmer than average sea surface temperatures across the basin, especially near the main development region. Parts of the Atlantic ocean are 0.5-degrees warmer than average. Warm sea surface temperatures aid in the development and strengthening of tropical cyclones, which will help boost the numbers above average this season. 

Earlier this year, the northern and western Gulf of Mexico water temperatures were running below average due to the Arctic outbreak in February. Those temperatures have slowly recovered throughout March and April and are not expected to mitigate the numbers this season.

The 2021 forecast from CSU is slightly higher than their forecast last year. Their 2020 forecast predicted 16 storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. The 2021 forecast from CSU will be revised at the beginning of June. Go ahead and begin preparing for hurricane season now. Create your hurricane kit and make sure your insurance is up-to-date.

Strong tornadoes possible across the South this week

Another shot for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, including some strong tornadoes, possible for the South on Thursday. A Level 4 risk of severe thunderstorms is in place Thursday for a good chunk of the South, including Jackson, MS; Memphis, TN; Birmingham, AL; and Nashville, TN.

The severe threat will start west of the Mississippi River early in the day and spread east throughout the afternoon and evening hours. It is possible parts of the Level 4 risk area may be upgraded to a Level 5.

Keep checking back for updates!

Live Blog: Tornado Outbreak Continuous Coverage

Severe Weather Outlook 1

This live blog provides a one-stop shop for our users to get the latest forecasts during the current tornado outbreak. In addition to descriptive graphics, we will also share footage as this event unfolds, along with periodic forecast discussions.

Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 6:08pm ET (5:08pm CT)
Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 6:04pm ET (5:04pm CT)

A dangerous tornado is currently passing across I-65, north of Birmingham, between Gardendale and Morris.

Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 5:04pm ET (4:04pm CT)

As of 3:58pm CT, a confirmed tornado was located near Bull City, moving northeast at 30 mph. This tornado-producing storm will soon begin in infringe on northwestern portions of the Birmingham metro region.

Confirmed tornado heading northeastward toward northwestern portions of the Birmingham, Alabama metro.
Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 4:43pm ET (3:43pm CT)

That blue dot on the right image indicates that debris is being lofted into the atmosphere by a strong tornado. This is the tornado that was near Brookwood, Alabama around 3:31 pm CT. It’s moving northeast at 20 mph. Radar imagery shared by chief meteorologist Marc Weinberg.

Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 4:33pm ET (3:33pm CT)

Extensive tornado damage over chicken houses in Wayne County, Mississippi from earlier this afternoon. Photo shared by Brian Emfinger (@brianemfinger on Twitter)

Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 4:12pm ET (3:12pm CT)

A confirmed and strong tornado remains on the ground with a storm that is now east of downtown Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The tornado is now just north of I-20, moving northeastward toward Brookwood.

Strong tornado moving in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama
Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 3:54pm ET (2:54pm CT)

A confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado is 7 miles south of Tuscaloosa, Alabama as of 2:45pm CT. The storm is moving northeast at 30 mph. The National Weather Service has designated this as a particularly dangerous situation.

Radar over Tuscaloosa, Alabama as of 2:50pm CT
Strong velocity couplet on Radar southeast of Tuscaloosa as of 2:53pm CT
Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 3:40pm ET (2:40pm CT)

Clusters of supercells continue to head northeastward across the outlined region. Though surface temperatures may be slightly lower relative to areas nearby, vertical wind shear is very favorable for strong, potentially long-track tornadoes.

Latest region favorable for strong tornadoes in the near future.
Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 2:30pm ET (1:30pm CT)
tornado watch for western mississippi, southeastern Arkansas, and northern and northeast Louisiana until 7pm CT.
PDS tornado watch for much of western MS and across parts of northern/northeastern LA and southeastern AR until 7pm CT
Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 2:22pm ET (1:22pm CT)

The SPC has outlined a region across south-central Mississippi that has rapidly become favorable for the development of strong tornadoes.

Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 2:16pm ET (1:16pm CT)

From earlier in Wayne County, MS. . .

Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 1:43pm ET (12:43pm CT)

Another PDS tornado will shortly be issued across parts of western Mississippi, southeastern Arkansas, and northeastern/eastern Louisiana.

Outlined region expected to go under PDS tornado watch shortly.
Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 1:33pm ET (12:33pm CT)

Analogs indicate strong tornado potentially ongoing in Mississippi currently.

Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 1:27pm ET (12:27pm CT)

A confirmed tornado has already been detected 10 miles south of Goodwater, Mississippi and will cross over the Mississippi/Alabama state line. The Storm Prediction Center has outlined a region that could face impacts from a strong tornado within the next 1-2 hours or less.

Strong tornado threat exists across parts of the MS/AL border
Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 12:47pm ET (11:47pm CT)

A PDS tornado watch has now gone live across parts of Mississippi and Alabama until 7pm CT. We will make a better graphic in a bit.

A PDS tornado watch has gone live across parts of Mississippi and Alabama until 7pm CT.
Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 12:40pm ET (11:40pm CT)

Parts of Mississippi and Alabama now sit under a rare 45% tornado risk. These high probabilities have only been used a handful of times in the past. This means that there’s a 45% chance that a tornado will hit within 25 miles of a given point within the outlined region.

The probability that a tornado will hit within 25 miles of a given point in the outlined regions.
Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 12:20pm ET (11:20pm CT)

The Storm Prediction will issue a PDS (particularly dangerous situation) tornado watch shortly across parts of Mississippi and Alabama. Breaks in cloud coverage, along with strong, low-level transport of moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, have quickly allowed for the atmosphere to become unstable. Temperatures have already surged well into the 70s to near 80 across central and southern Mississippi.

PDS tornado watch coming shortly for outlined region
Breaks in cloud coverage have allowed for quick destabilization.
Update: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 12:00pm ET (11:00pm CT)
Severe weather outlook for Wednesday, March 17.
Severe weather outlook for Thursday, March 18.

Strong, violent tornadoes likely for parts of the South

A dangerous severe weather outbreak will unfold across parts of the country over the next three days. This severe weather outbreak will lead to strong, violent tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds.

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The severe threat will slowly shift east from Tuesday through Thursday.

Tuesday severe thunderstorm outlook
Wednesday severe thunderstorm outlook
Thursday severe thunderstorm outlook