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Gulf of Mexico storm brewing – could be Jerry

Yet another tropical disturbance is located in the southern Gulf of Mexico, about 270 miles east-southeast of Tampico, Mexico, and is expected to linger for several days.  If it strengthens sufficiently, it will earn the name Jerry.

Enhanced satellite image of the Bay of Campeche. Low-level clouds show up as yellow while upper-level clouds show up as white. The surface center position is marked with a red "x". (NOAA)
Enhanced satellite image of the Bay of Campeche from 9:15am EDT today.  Low-level clouds show up as yellow while upper-level clouds show up as white. The approximate  surface center position is marked with a red “x”. (NOAA)

This disturbance first organized on the east side of the Yucatan peninsula a couple days ago (see Tuesday’s update), then fell apart while crossing land.

It has been slow to get its act together now that it’s back over water.  Due to a familiar combination of wind shear and mid-level dry air, there is only minimal thunderstorm activity associated with it now, and it’s very asymmetric as you see in the image above.

Model solutions vary somewhat, but for the most part, they agree that the ridge that’s currently steering the disturbance westward will break down.  They differ on whether or not an approaching trough/front will pick it up and sweep it eastward.  If it does get picked up, that would likely result in the system getting sheared apart and transitioning to an extratropical cyclone (or completely smeared out).  If it does not get picked up, it could sit in the southern Gulf for several days.

No dynamical models are predicting this to become any stronger than a minimal tropical storm.

One model solution (GFS 06Z run) of 500 mb heights, vorticity, and winds showing the ridge weakening and giving way to basically no mid-level steering by the weekend. (

For now, it’s simply meandering in the western Gulf… just off the Mexican coast, in the same vicinity where Ingrid just made landfall and dumped a lot of rain.  Moisture associated with this should also feed into the trough/front I mentioned, providing a good chance of very heavy rain over the northern Gulf coast and into Florida, with 2-4″ forecast across a large swath over the next week, and even higher amounts locally.

Various dynamical model 5-day track forecasts from this morning.  They either stop tracking a coherent vortex, dissipate it inland over Mexico, or have it get absorbed by the trough in the northern Gulf.

This disturbance could become a depression soon, and it if intensifies further to a tropical storm, its name would be Jerry, the 10th named storm of the season, and the 5th Atlantic tropical cyclone to affect the Bay of Campeche this season (previously we had Barry, Fernand, TD8, and Ingrid).  Just for completeness, we’ve also had two hurricanes now: Humberto and Ingrid, though both maxed out at Category 1 intensity.

In terms of Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), this season stands at 23 (x10,000 knots squared) right now, compared to the average of 67 for this date; that’s 34% of average. According to Ryan Maue’s website, this is tied with the 1984 season, and actually ahead of eight other seasons going back to 1950, so we’re definitely nowhere near record low activity for this date, but still significantly behind climatology.

Brian McNoldy is a senior researcher at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Brian McNoldy works in cyclone research at the University of Miami’s world-renowned Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS). His website hosted at RSMAS is also quite popular during hurricane season.
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Kevin Ambrose · September 19, 2013

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