Formation of tropical storm in Gulf now at 90 percent


The National Hurricane Center upgraded its forecast for the formation of a tropical cyclone Sunday morning.

By Bob Heist | 315-4404 | @bobheistNWFDN |

The National Hurricane Center has all but assured that a system of disturbed weather in the Caribbean — now named Invest 93L — will organize into a tropical cyclone when it enters the Gulf of Mexico, increasing the likelihood to 90 percent in a report released Sunday morning.

In the release of a 5-Day Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook at 7 a.m. Central, NHC noted:

“A broad area of low pressure located over the northwestern Caribbean Sea continues to produce a large area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms. Gradual development of this system is expected while it moves slowly northwestward across the Yucatan Peninsula later [Sunday] and over the southern or central Gulf of Mexico on Monday and Tuesday, where a tropical or subtropical cyclone is likely to form.

NHC added, “Regardless of development, heavy rains are expected over portions of Central America, the Yucatan Peninsula, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and western Cuba during the next several days.”

The hurricane center looked at the timetable associated with this weather system and issued a medium chance, 60 percent, of a tropical cyclone developing over the next 48 hours. But the five-day forecast was far more significant, upping the chance of formation to 90 percent. In a Saturday report from NHC, the percentages were 20 and 70 percent, respectively.

The Weather Channel is issuing the same projected forecast for tropical depression formation, adding in a report Sunday morning, “Most of the forecast guidance suggests the area of disturbed weather will track in a north or northwest direction through the Gulf of Mexico early week. As this occurs, parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast and Florida will see increasing moisture which will fuel heavy rainfall.”

Also noted in the report by The Weather Channel:

“Florida will be the first area to experience this influx of moisture, resulting in heavy downpours Sunday into Monday. Other parts of the northern, central and western Gulf Coast could also see heavy rain depending on the track of this system Tuesday into Wednesday.

“A low that tracks towards the Florida panhandle would increase the threat of heavy rain there and in other parts of the Southeast. Meanwhile, a track towards Texas or northern Mexico would lead to the possibility of heavier rains on the central and western Gulf Coast.”

While the exact track of the storm can’t be predicted with confidence at this time, all weather-related outlets say the storm system will most certainly effect Northwest Florida. Will it be a direct hit? That’s the big question right now as the storm system heads toward the Gulf.

According to The Weather Channel:

“The uncertainty in the track of this system is due to a southward dip in the jet stream developing early this week in the eastern states.

“A greater influence from that jet stream will tend to lift this system farther north towards the northeastern Gulf Coast. If that jet stream dip has less of an influence, a track towards Texas or northern Mexico can be expected.

“All interests along the U.S. Gulf Coast should continue to monitor this situation.”

The Weather Channel added that history suggests, “Any storms that do form typically track north or northeastward, which brings the Gulf Coast and the Southeast coast in play for potential impacts.”

A report from Accuweather noted the uncertainty of the storm’s path, but did spotlight the possibility of a tropical system developing and moving toward the Florida panhandle.

“Should the tropical system form on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula it would have a greater chance of moving northward. Heavy showers and gusty thunderstorms with building seas will spread northward across the eastern Gulf of Mexico in this scenario,” according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

“The northward track might mean a weaker system that is being subjected to disruptive winds at mid-levels of the atmosphere and slightly cooler waters. However, even a weak or non-designated tropical system could unleash torrential rainfall and flooding.”

If this storm system develops into the expected tropical storm, its name will be Bret.