(KXAN) – A disorganized cluster of showers and thunderstorms in the Bay of Campeche and southern Gulf of Mexico is associated with a broad tropical low. Broad as in it has no defined center of circulation, or closed low. Often making it difficult for models to forecast the direction it will head. The National Hurricane center is currently giving it a 90%, high probability, of forming into a Tropical Depression by Thursday evening or Friday morning. A Tropical Depression forms when increasing rapid evaporation and condensation occurs and clouds become higher and larger and start to circulate around a more defined center. This causes the thunderstorms to become more organized. When the winds become greater than 38mph then it is has reached Tropical Storm status and from there gets designated a name. Next name up on the list for this Atlantic Hurricane season: Claudette.
Where will it head?
Remember, until we get a closed circulation, models will have a tough time forecasting where it will go. Despite that, it has a somewhat good consensus that it will make landfall somewhere between Houston and NOLA.
What’s preventing it from coming this way?
A big ridge of high pressure that is currently sitting over the Four Corners of the country, and responsible for their record breaking heat, will be the steering mechanism of our weather pattern.
It will also provide us hot and humid weather as we currently lie under the eastern periphery of the high. But it will also act as a wall or barrier, preventing the center of the potential storm from moving over our head and instead steering it toward Louisiana. This doesn’t mean we will see absolutely no impacts.
Could we see any impacts?
With landfall still many days away, and without a current organized low, the track still has time to shift back westward. Some models show this scenario. This would mean some showers will be possible (mainly in our eastern viewing area) from the extreme western edge of the storm. The timeline for this potential impact would be Saturday during the day. Benefits from this for us would of course be some rain cooling air and somewhat of a relief from this heat; at least by a few degrees. Flooding rain is expected to fall however in the Mississippi valley. An area that is already water-logged from May’s flooding rains.
How much will it intensify?
It will more than likely remain either a Tropical Depression, or potentially intensify into a weak Tropical Storm. Here’s a look at some of our model intensity guidance:
What’s preventing it from intensifying into a hurricane?
While the Gulf sea surface temperatures are plenty warm for intensification. There are a couple of contributing factors that are prohibiting it from intensifying.
1: Wind shear – Strong winds high up in the atmosphere will limit organization of thunderstorm activity. Crucial for tropical development.
2: Saharan dust – Saharan dust being blown in all the way from Africa is currently sitting over the Gulf. Dust is strongly correlated with dry air. Tropical storms need moist air for development.
While this may not be too much of an impactful storm for us here locally, it is important to remember we are climatologically in the very early stage of hurricane season with many months to go.
Peak hurricane season arrives towards the middle of September. With September and October typically being the most active timeframe for Gulf of Mexico development.