A Hurricane in the Central Gulf This Weekend…Chances Are Increasing
The 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season is ramping up and that’s no surprise since we’re just hitting the peak. Along the East Coast this time last week, all eyes were on Hurricane Irene and this week those living along the Gulf Coast are closely watching Disturbance 35. Right now it’s located about 165 miles southwest of the Mississippi Delta and it’s moving slowly to the west-northwest at less than 5 mph. It’s slowly becoming better organized and it could be declared a depression or even a tropical storm later today or tomorrow.
Squalls are already moving in along the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts with locally heavy rain and gusty winds likely for several days. Disturbance 35 will continue to move very slowly to the west-northwest toward southwestern Louisiana today and tomorrow. Once near the Louisiana coast it will become virtually stationary and could remain in that general area through the weekend. By early next week it should begin to track to the southwest. We think landfall will be in South Texas or northeastern Mexico around the middle of next week. Alternate scenarios include a track into southern Louisiana or inland near Sabine Pass on the Texas/Louisiana border. Those scenarios look to be unlikely due to high pressure expected to build from the north.
Widespread showers and thunderstorms extend across much of the central and eastern Gulf of Mexico. Some outer squalls are already moving into southeastern Louisiana and coastal Mississippi and extend southward into the northwestern Caribbean Sea. Upper-level wind shear across the area is a prohibiting factor in development. The shear appears to be decreasing and is expected to completely diminish over the next 24 hours. The result will be conditions that are favorable for strengthening.
As I previously mentioned, this disturbance could be declared a depression or even a tropical storm later today or tomorrow. It could become a hurricane over the weekend if it doesn’t interact with land before moving away to the southwest. Confidence in the intensity forecast remains average.
Heavy rain will be possible along the Texas and southwestern Louisiana Coasts by late tomorrow or early Saturday. Due to the very slow motion expected near the coast, the squalls may last for several days. We desperately need the rain here in Texas as we’re in an exceptional drought, but I certainly wasn’t hoping it would come in the form of a hurricane. Check out our latest video on Tropical Disturbance 35.