HOUSTON - Friday morning we are watching the tropical system that was over the Yucatan the day before as it emerges into the Bay of Campeche and southern Gulf of Mexico.
At 8 a.m. Friday, the satellite picture indicated a low centered around 100 miles off the northwest tip of the Yucatan, located about 500 miles east of Brownsville. Because there are no thunderstorms near the center, it has not yet achieved tropical depression status.
A combination of dry air and wind shear is displacing all the showers and thunderstorms well to the east and north of the low level center. The National Hurricane Center gives it a 60 percent chance of becoming a depression or tropical storm over the weekend or early next week, particularly if it continues a slow movement west.
If the system were to move more to the north it would encounter drier air and more wind shear, which would lessen the chance of development. Given the hostile environment Friday morning, the hurricane hunter missions for the day were cancelled.
Weather forecast models continue to be all over the place on what will transpire over the next five days regarding the disturbance.
One group has the bulk of the system moving north to northwest, in which case the above-mentioned shear should preclude significant development as a storm. However, all the deep tropical moisture will stream into the Gulf coast from southeast Louisiana eastward, bringing folks there a risk of flooding rain.
Another group of models take the low slowly west into the southern Gulf toward Mexico perhaps as far north as far South Texas.
At 5-7 mph, the low would take until Monday to reach the Mexican coast. Several days over the warm waters and marginal wind shear gives the system a chance to develop if it takes this route.
Yet another set of models dissipate rather than develop the low due to the current hostile environment. While all three are possible, based on Friday morning's data, I think the westward movement with some development is the more likely of the scenarios.
While currently not posing a risk to southeast Texas, if the system lingers over the Gulf into next week, steering currents will be in place to bring at least the tropical moisture into our area.
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