Weather

Questions Answered for the Potential Tropical Threat in the Gulf Next Week

That little spec of orange in the northern Gulf of Mexico is the possible disturbance next week.
That little spec of orange in the northern Gulf of Mexico is the possible disturbance next week. Screenshot via TropicalTidbits.com
For a little more than a day, forecast models have been hinting at the possibility that a low pressure system situated currently near Puerto Rico might drift west into the Gulf of Mexico and develop. This would mark the first legitimate threat to the U.S. coastline since Subtropical Storm Alberto back in May.

So, let's talk about what this is and what kind of threat it might post to us along the Texas Gulf coast.

What is it?

Currently, it is nothing more than a low pressure system drifting north near Puerto Rico.


Where is it forecast to go?

Models have been pretty consistent in a path that moves it across the Florida Peninsula and northwest across the Gulf toward Mississippi or Louisiana. But, the forecast track is still more than five days out, so there is a great deal of uncertainty. However, the most reliable forecasting model has been showing this path for over a day now.

What is the timing?


Forecasts suggest middle to late next week for its final landfall, but a lot will depend on if it develops at all between now and then.

How big will it get?


Unknown. For the moment, it seems unlikely it will develop into anything more than a tropical wave, but Gulf waters are exceptionally warm and there are a couple of pockets of deep warm water that could fuel more rapid intensification. But, there is a lot that has to happen between now and then.

When will we know more?

By Monday, there will be significantly more data to help forecast models determine path and even strength.

Should I be worried?

Not really. Right now, it has less than a 10 percent chance of development into a tropical disturbance of any kind. But, obviously, it is the height of hurricane season, so it's a good time to make sure you are prepared either way.

Anything else in the tropics I should lose sleep over?

There are multiple tropical waves lining up to come off the coast of Africa, but none poses a threat to the Gulf of Mexico. The first could be a major hurricane, but it is likely to spin harmlessly out to sea.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke