What You Need to Know About The Tropical Disturbance Nearing the Gulf

The European Model shows a tropical depression near the Texas/Mexico border on Friday afternoon.
The European Model shows a tropical depression near the Texas/Mexico border on Friday afternoon. Screenshot via Tropical Tidbits
The National Hurricane Center has designated a ball of showers and thunderstorms west of the Yucatan Peninsula as Invest 95L. They have given the tropical wave a 50 percent chance of developing into a depression or tropical storm in the next five days as it moves across the Gulf of Mexico.

What is an invest?

When the NHC believes a tropical wave or other disturbance has the potential to develop into more than just a big bunch of rain showers, it gives it a designation called an "invest." That designates additional resources into researching the storm track and intensity forecast.

What is the forecast?

Right now, there is some divergence in the forecast models in terms of both track and intensity. When disorganized low pressure systems are forecast, they tend to be less predictable than an organized storm. Right now, both models expect the invest to move generally west-northwest across the Gulf toward Texas. The European model, generally a better performing forecast model, brings a depression or moderate tropical storm to around the Texas/Mexico border by Friday. The American (GFS) does not develop the storm and brings an area of showers to the central Texas coastline over roughly the same timeline.

Is it possible it could turn into a hurricane?

It's possible, but not very likely. Wind shear in the Gulf, one of the things that has the tendency to inhibit the development of storms, is forecast to remain moderate throughout the next week. That should prevent any explosive development of the storm as it moves across the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

What should we expect in Houston?

Most likely, more of what we've been getting this week already. Depending on where the center of the system ultimately makes landfall, it could certainly increase our rainfall chances into next week. The closer it gets to us, the more prevalent the rain and its effects. Also, waters in the Gulf and Galveston Bay should be pretty rough heading into early next week.

So, should we worry?

Not really. Be prepared, like we know all you good boys and girls are during hurricane season, but no one is expecting a repeat of Harvey or a huge hurricane to rapidly intensify in the Gulf. Still, we are in the peak of hurricane season, so it bears watching.
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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