Tropical Storm Grace set to emerge in the Gulf by week’s end — where could it make landfall?

Weather

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As of the latest update from the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Grace has 50 mph sustained winds and is moving westward at 15 mph. Here’s the projected path and the “cone of uncertainty” from the NHC.

The official forecast now intensifies Grace into a hurricane by Wednesday morning. Remember, the center of the storm can move anywhere inside the cone, meaning the impacts could be far reaching, as much as hundreds of miles outside of the cone.

Here’s a look at what the latest “Spaghetti models” are showing.

Courtesy of WxBELL Analytics

Spaghetti models are individually predicted paths a tropical cyclone is expected to take after using different initial conditions for the calculations.

Click HERE for a more in-depth explanation.

HOW STRONG COULD GRACE BECOME?

Each model now moves Grace through the Yucatan Peninsula. While this is obviously bad news for the Peninsula, this is better news for Grace’s potential second landfall. Any time a storm moves over land, friction and lack of evaporation will substantially weaken the storm. The first landfall over the Yucatan should weaken Grace from a hurricane back into more of a weaker, disorganized storm. However, once it’s back in the open waters of the Gulf, it will about 30 hours or of time to re-strengthen before making a second landfall in Central Mexico. This is opposed to it taking more of a northerly track, missing the Yucatan, and staying over open waters where it could continually strengthen. With very warm sea-surface temperatures (above 80 F) some models actually intensify it into a strong hurricane.

WHAT IS KEEPING THE STORM AWAY FROM TEXAS?

This big upper-level ridge or high pressure is the reason the storm is expected to stay south of Texas and not impact us here locally. Take a look at the upper air level models.

You can see the high pressure strengthens and even moves westward over the next several days. This acts like a wall, blocking and suppressing storms to our south.

A moving Tropical Cyclone typically moves in the direction of the prevailing wind flow high in the atmosphere, as well as moves towards a path of least resistance. While this ridge of high pressure will more than likely keep Grace south of Texas, it will also provide us with drier and hotter conditions here locally as we head into the weekend.

COULD THIS FORECAST CHANGE?

Absolutely.

IF the high pressure is weaker or positioned a bit further to the north than models are projecting, then this would allow Grace to track further to the north as well. Perhaps making landfall near the TX/MX border, but still fortunately not impact us locally. There are still many days away from potential landfall, so there is still ample time for models to change. So check in with us each day for updates.

Remember, the tropics are just heating up as head towards the peak of hurricane season in September.

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