Gulf Disturbance Expected to be a Hurricane at Landfall

While it isn't a depression yet, the National Hurricane Center thinks this disturbance will be a hurricane at landfall.
While it isn't a depression yet, the National Hurricane Center thinks this disturbance will be a hurricane at landfall. National Hurricane Center
The forecast for what the National Hurricane Center has deemed Potential Tropical Cyclone 2 — what is likely to become Tropical Storm and eventually Hurricane Barry — remains rather uncertain Wednesday morning. The center of circulation is over water, but most of the thunderstorm activity is spread across a huge swath of the eastern Gulf of Mexico and central Gulf coast. There have been some rather dramatic videos and photos posted of a rain soaked French Quarter in New Orleans with water piling up thanks to thunderstorms related to this low pressure system.

However, the NHC believes it will eventually strengthen enough to become Hurricane Barry before landfall on Saturday and the Houston-Galveston area remains on the western edge of the Center's cone of uncertainty.

With all the variables, there are things we know, but still a lot we don't about this storm.

Here's what we know.

This is going to be a rain maker.

This storm is going to dump a bunch of rain on the central Gulf coast, particularly in Louisiana, mainly because they have already felt the effects and will continue to feel them over the next two to three days as the storm eventually moves closer to landfall. Paths along the track and east of the storm will get heavy rainfall for several days.

This storm is very likely going to be Tropical Storm Barry, probably Hurricane Barry.

The National Hurricane Center is now forecasting the storm will be Hurricane Barry when it makes landfall sometime on Saturday.

Here's what we don't know.

Where will Barry eventually make landfall?

Until there is a center of circulation and a formed depression, it is going to be very difficult to forecast the exact track of the storm. Right now, models range from eastern Louisiana to the upper Texas coast. The bulls-eye with most forecast models has been somewhere between extreme eastern Texas and central Louisiana, but that's still a pretty wide spread. Models shifted slightly west overnight Tuesday, but could shift back east on Wednesday.

How big will it get?

Much of that will depend on where it forms. The farther south it eventually organizes, the longer it will have over water with time to develop. The sooner it interacts with land, the more disorganized it will be. As of Wednesday morning, no intensity forecast has called for more than a small category 1 hurricane, but even the NHC is bullish enough on the forecast to predict it will make hurricane status. Since the biggest concern is rainfall, that doesn't really matter at the moment.

When will we know?

When it makes landfall? Kidding. The National Hurricane Center is flying a mission into the storm Wednesday and that data will help to form the basis of Wednesday night's forecast models. By Thursday morning, forecast models should be in much better agreement with a landfall expected between late Friday and late Saturday depending on the location.
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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