We know, we know, but that joke is never going to get old. As we discussed last week, that disturbed area of weather in the southern Gulf of Mexico has done spun itself up into a tropical storm. The National Weather Service designated Tropical Storm Debby on Saturday afternoon and reported
she it continues to drift northward slowly.
As a few of the models began to predict in the latter part of next week -- and now nearly all are following suit -- the NHC expects Debby to move slowly to the north, but now that they have managed to get a better handle on the storm, an almost direct poleward movement is forecast until Debby makes landfall along the northern Gulf coast.
Fortunately, Debby appears to be hindered by several factors that will likely prevent her from becoming a hurricane, let alone a major storm. Dry air to Debby's west has left her virtually rain-free on that side of the storm while Florida on the wet side is being deluged with rain. Ultimately Florida could see as much as 15 or even 20 inches of rain before all is said and done...and we thought we had flooding problems in Houston.
The irony is that while the storm will provide a fairly decent tide and a modest storm surge along the Alabama coastline and Florida panhandle, they won't see nearly as much rain as the bulk of Florida with all that rain pushed to the east of Debby's center.
Maybe worse, none of us will be lucky enough to get any rain from this storm, which means continued highs pushing 100 all week long.
The forming of Debby is significant historically. This many named storms have never formed this early in the Atlantic hurricane season. But that doesn't necessarily portend a busy season. In fact, most years with above average activity see storms forming well out into the Atlantic early on in the year. In the case of the four storms this year, two were the remnants of frontal boundaries and the other two were modest disturbances formed in the Caribbean. With Atlantic sea temperatures still below normal and expected to remain that way thanks to El Niño conditions in the Pacific, it is still more likely we will have a below normal to about average year in the Atlantic, no matter how it began.