4:55 p.m. — Tropical Storm Odette forms in the Atlantic

The disturbance off the East Coast, about 225 miles southeast of Cape May, N.J., has sufficiently organized to earn the name Tropical Storm Odette. With peak winds of 40 mph, it’s headed northeast, away from land, at 15 mph. Over the next day, it may gain a bit of strength before it transitions into a mid-latitude storm south of Atlantic Canada, over the ocean and not threatening land.

Original article from midday

Ever had an unwanted house guest who overstayed their welcome? That’s sort of what Nicholas is right now. The ex-hurricane’s raggedy remnants have been stalled over Louisiana for days, producing downpours that continue to drench already waterlogged areas.

Another inch or two of rain is probable before the stubborn system finally relinquishes its grasp. It’s unwelcome icing on a cake that’s consisted of back-to-back tropical strikes in the region (first, Ida) and a year of prolific rainfall. Parts of Louisiana have surpassed 100 inches for the year, vying for records with three months left in 2021.

Nicholas is one of several systems swirling about the Western Hemisphere, with at least two other areas to watch in the Atlantic. Both could become named storms but currently pose only a low risk of any direct impacts to the U.S. mainland or territories.

Mid-September traditionally marks the historical peak of Atlantic hurricane season, and the oceans are cooking up plenty of activity. Tropical storms and hurricanes have produced about 20 percent more energy than average by this point in the season. Researchers at Colorado State University project near- to above-average hurricane activity over the next two weeks.

Stubborn Nicholas continues to stall

Nicholas was a hurricane when it made landfall Sunday night southwest of Galveston, Tex. Then, it degenerated into a juiced-up tropical storm that dropped up to 14 inches of rain in Texas and more than a half-foot in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina.

Despite the system having been parked inland for days, it’s still appearing on weather maps. Its winds are virtually nonexistent — it isn’t even a tropical depression — and the straggling system isn’t exhibiting any spin visible on satellite. A lobe of dry air is approaching from southeast Oklahoma, though, which could clash with the humid air and further amplify rainfall.

Most spots might see another inch or two, but soils can’t handle much additional rainfall. Flash flood watches span much of the Interstate 10 corridor in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, including places like New Orleans, Gulfport-Biloxi and Mobile.

“Additional rain amounts of 1 to 3 inches with locally higher amounts are possible,” wrote the Weather Service office in New Orleans. “Some spots [received] over 10 inches the last 3 days. The highly saturated ground will quickly lead to runoff with drainage problems in areas still recovering from Hurricane Ida.”

Waveland, Miss., has received more than 110 inches of rain for the year; that’s roughly twice the average amount of rain through mid-September.

Weather models suggest that much of Mississippi, southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle will see continued intermittent showers and downpours through early Saturday. A few pockets of up to two additional inches may be found where the showers “train,” or move over the same areas.

System developing off the East Coast

For days, meteorologists have been tracking a swirl of thunderstorms north of the Bahamas that posed a risk for tropical development. On Thursday, that swirl slipped between the Carolinas and Bermuda and was located offshore of the Mid-Atlantic on Friday.

The bulk of any thunderstorm activity associated with the system has been relegated east of the center because of the formation of a cold front. The system’s counterclockwise spin has dragged down a “wedge” of marine air that’s brought cloud cover and moisture to areas from Washington to Philadelphia.

The National Hurricane Center noted that the system was “broad and elongated,” and not really consolidated enough to warrant naming as a tropical storm or categorizing as a tropical depression. That said, it is likely to become one before transitioning into a nontropical low on Saturday as it moves into the northwest Atlantic and perhaps approaches the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland by Sunday night.

“Regardless of development, this system could bring high surf to portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. coasts and Atlantic Canada through this weekend,” the Hurricane Center wrote.

Area to watch off African coastline

Another system, known currently as Invest 95L, ejected westward off the African coastline this week near Senegal. It began its long trek west across the Atlantic’s Main Development Region, or the stretch of warm water in the tropical belt north of the equator. That clump of showers and a few thunderstorms have been slow to organize. While the system exhibits plenty of spin, it’s having a tough time brewing persistent thunderstorms.

The National Hurricane Center estimates a high likelihood, around 70 percent odds, that the system will develop into a tropical depression or storm as it continues westward. It will probably skirt north of the Lesser Antilles and recurve out to sea, but it still could induce heavy rainfall along the northern Leeward Islands.