HOUSTON – With one potential depression in the Gulf of Mexico and now a new storm in the Atlantic, the third week of July is proving a potent time for the tropics! Here’s what to expect:
The Gulf system has a 70% chance of developing into a tropical depression in the next two days and 80% in the next three to five, but whatever it becomes will be nearing the Texas coast in two days (Friday evening). Both the American and European models form a circulation south of Galveston. Here are the two models Friday evening with Lows circulating southeast of Matagorda Bay.
So these will definitely produce dangerous rip currents, high surf (5-7′ seas), and minor run-up flooding at the coast (watch the Blue Water Highway and 87). They are not big wind producers (a tropical depression would be 35mph and a storm would be 39mph plus). As to rain, that all depends on just how quickly the system moves and if any training sets up. Right now, the Weather Prediction Center has heavier amounts, near 5″, offshore, but that placement can change and that amount can increase.
The bottom line is, you should expect a weekend washout! We will monitor this carefully, as I always say with a tropical air mass, you can often DOUBLE what that forecast predicts and that could mean 10″ of rain somewhere across Southeast or Central Texas.
A dusty death?
Our other system upgraded this morning to Tropical Storm Gonzalo. That G name replaced Gustav after 2008 when Gustav went into Louisiana as a Category 2 storm, having been a Category 4 over Cuba. At the time, everyone braced for a huge impact because the levee system in New Orleans would be tested for the first time since 2005′s Hurricane Katrina. But Gustav weakened enough so that the levees were fine — still 48 people died in that state alone and 15-20″ of rain fell (more here).
Back to Gonzalo, which is now forecast to become a hurricane in the next day or two, will move into the Caribbean over the weekend. However, this storm will be encountering dry air at the mid-levels thanks to — wait for it — Saharan Dust! I’ve circled Gonzalo below and you can see the dust north of it:
Should the storm survive that, there is still strong wind (shear) in the Caribbean waiting to tear it apart. Again I’ve circled the storm in purple and the shear in white (those red “unfavorable” lines):
So this storm will have to run the gamut to stay alive. Our main attention, of course, is on the Gulf system which will primarily be a rainmaker for the weekend (and some areas in our western viewing area desperately need the rain). However, we’ve seen these weak systems pull in flooding rains and after forty years I have seen so many weird things happen in the weather that I can tell you one thing: Never turn your back on the tropics!