HOUSTON - Satellite pictures Thursday morning show that our tropical disturbance is now over the Bay of Campeche. Surface pressures continue to slowly fall and our disturbance could easily become a tropical depression later in the day. United States Air Force hurricane hunters are scheduled to fly into the area Thursday afternoon.
While forecasting intensity of tropical cyclones is still a challenge, there are several factors that support further strengthening of this low. It is moving slowly toward the west so will be over the very warm water of the Bay of Campeche at least through the weekend. Winds in the atmosphere surrounding the low are light, hence the slow movement and also a sign of little shear. From the satellite images it appears that the air is very moist in and surrounding our disturbance. As long as the center stays away from land, we should not be surprised to see it continue to strengthen the next several days.
By how much? It's too soon to say with accuracy.
Weak steering currents persist and it might take until late Sunday or Monday before the storm makes landfall along the Mexican coast. Thursday morning's models spread ranges from near Tampico to south of Veracruz on the Mexican coast for likely landfall of the center.
For the Houston-Galveston area, impacts depend on how strong and large it becomes. A strong tropical storm or hurricane moving more toward Tampico could develop rough seas and elevated tides creating hazards for beach goers. A weaker storm going south of Veracruz would have little impact. Once the storm moves inland, the tropical moisture will stream into Texas from the gulf enhancing our rain chances. For now, still a lot of uncertainty.
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