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Dandy Don? Tropical Storm Could Bring Drought Relief This Weekend

See that little cloud mass by the Yucatan Peninsula...that's our boy!
See that little cloud mass by the Yucatan Peninsula...that's our boy!
Courtesy Weather Underground

Remember a couple weeks ago when I told you that just because it had been quiet in the tropics, that didn't mean it would stay that way? Well, I hate to say I told you so.

A disturbance that will likely be upgraded to tropical storm status later today by the National Hurricane Center has Texas in its sights if the forecast models are to be believed. Now, Texas has a massive coastline and we are still three to four days out from a potential landfall, but any strike along the upper Texas coast means precipitation for a rain-starved area, but, like any tropical disturbance, that can be a mixed blessing.

Right now, it's just called Invest 90 by the NHC, which is how they classify tropical areas with the potential to develop. They are giving this area an 80 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression and, odds are, they will find that Tropical Storm Don has formed when their reconnaissance flight visits the area later today.

Forecast models are split, but a landfall somewhere along the Texas coast seems a safe bet.
Forecast models are split, but a landfall somewhere along the Texas coast seems a safe bet.

Forecast models are pointing the storm in our direction because a ridge of high pressure that has been causing all the really hot weather for southeast Texas over the last week is forecast to move eastward by Friday. Tropical storms are areas of low pressure and are often steered by areas of high pressure. In this case, if Don does form, it is likely it will traverse the western edge of the high pressure area. The further the high pressure system moves to the east, the more of a northwesterly to northerly turn our storm will take.

If there were any reason to worry, it would be the concern that this disturbance could intensify rapidly and we could be staring down the barrel of a big hurricane's gun come Friday evening. This would not be unprecedented -- it has happened quite a few times before (you might remember Rita and Katrina). However, the mechanisms that allow that to happen -- namely, warm sea surface temperatures and light upper level winds -- don't appear to be ideal for rapid strengthening.

The waters of the Gulf may be warm, but probably not hurricane incubation warm
The waters of the Gulf may be warm, but probably not hurricane incubation warm
Courtesy National Hurricane Center

Another good sign is that this storm is projected to make landfall within about 72 hours. That doesn't give it much time over water to develop.

The best we could hope for here is a storm that moves quickly across the Gulf without strengthening beyond tropical storm strength and slows down to give our area a good solid drenching before moving on. With drought conditions persisting throughout Texas, the rain would do us good.

Stay tuned.


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