The odds of a tropical system developing in the Gulf of Mexico are on the rise late this week. This system — to be named “Nestor” if it achieves tropical storm strength — could bring heavy rainfall to portions of the Gulf Coast this weekend, along with inland flood concerns and gusty winds.
It also has a strong chance to get drawn northward toward the Southeast and perhaps the Mid-Atlantic early next week.
A storm may form from a nestling disturbance emerging over the Bay of Campeche, soon to begin its northeastward trek over the anomalously warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
In the photo above, you can see two tropical systems. To the east, you’ll notice swirling clouds over the western Bay of Campeche; that’s the one to watch. The disturbance to the west over the Pacific has prompted tropical storm warnings from Barra de Tonala to Puerto Escondido, Mexico, but it may move inland before it has time to mature and earn a name.
The National Hurricane Center is giving the system over the Bay of Campeche a 50-50 shot of developing into a depression or storm. That may soon be upped, though, as models are rather bullish on it gathering some steam.
This system could become a tropical depression as it consolidates over water as soon as Thursday. Then it is likely to move on a track that will bring it toward the United States.
The European model forecasts the system to track toward Mississippi and Alabama. The GFS is a bit farther east with its forecasts, suggesting the Big Bend of Florida may be more in the target zone — in the vicinity of where Hurricane Michael struck a year ago.
Models suggest the system has a chance to strengthen into a tropical storm by tapping into favorable conditions over the Gulf of Mexico, particularly on Friday. The toasty Gulf waters and gentle winds at high altitudes could aid storm development.
But the system is unlikely to have much time to take advantage of these hospitable conditions, moving swiftly enough that it’ll be knocking on the coast’s doorstep by Friday night or Saturday.
This event is unlikely to become a major windmaker but instead more of a tropical rainstorm. Amounts of four to six inches are possible in some areas along the Interstate 10 corridor.
Despite the threat for pockets of flooding, this may actually be good news in a number of drought-stricken areas. Parts of the Sunshine State are absolutely parched. Panama City has seen only 33.4 inches of rain this year; by this time last year, it had topped 60. Tallahassee is in a similar situation, about 19 inches behind where it should be.
Nonetheless, too much rain in a short period of time could be dangerous.
After that, the remnant moisture from the system could enhance heavy downpours as a cold front approaches the Eastern Seaboard toward the early to middle portions of next week.