With maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (gradual weakening has occurred), the storm is moving northeast at just 3 mph, positioned 75 miles south of Apalalachicaola, Florida. Tropical storm warnings stretch from Destin to Englewood, Florida.
Already, isolated rainfall amounts of 1 foot have occurred (see map below) with widespread totals of 6-10 inches along and near Florida’s west coast (e.g. 10” in St. Petersburg and Tampa, and 9” in Gainesville) due to Debby’s proximity to land and its production of large, slowly moving clusters of convection well removed from the center.
In addition (though subject to change based on Debby’s landfall intensity), a storm surge up to 3-5 feet is possible just east of this zone near Apalachee Bay (darkest blue shading below right). And finally, the threat for isolated, brief tornadoes will continue today in the strongest rainbands in northeast quadrant of the circulation. On Sunday, a tornado killed a woman in Venus, Florida.
Video overview of Debbie from Associated Press
While a profilic rain-producer, recent satellite presentations and surface observations indicate that Debby is an unorganized tropical cyclone.
The lack of organization is ostensibly due to the 20-knot westerly wind shear over the region (arrow) that has plagued Debby since her inception as well as ingestion of some dry air. Though the oceanic heat content in the Gulf is capable of supporting a major hurricane, enough shear is expected to persist until landfall to keep Debby at tropical storm strength.
The uncertainty in the track forecast has been unusually high with this system. Until very recently, there was a large and typically-reliable contingency of global weather models that turned Debby westward into Louisiana and/or Texas. Yet the GFS –despite its flip-flopping about the fierce Plains heat wave that is in fact coming this week (see last Tuesday’s post)- has all along stood as one of the few outliers in the suite of track forecasts. It insisted on a north or northeast movement from the Gulf to Florida. For now, the consensus has for the most part shifted toward the GFS solutions and thus given NHC enough confidence in its official forecast to bring the center of Debby to Florida’s panhandle. So with that, kudos so far goes to the GFS with Debby’s track.
With Debby’s fate still far from certain, we will have more updates as necessary.