ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tropical Weather Highlights (8 p.m. ET Tuesday):
- A broad area of low pressure has emerged over Apalachee Bay in the northeastern section of the Gulf of Mexico.
- A tropical depression will likely form by late Wednesday or Thursday, as the weather system moves west across the northern Gulf of Mexico.
- The disturbance has the potential to cause heavy rainfall from the upper Texas coast to the Florida Panhandle in the next few days.
- This weather system could produce wind and storm surge issues late this week or this weekend from Louisiana to Texas.
- The chance of a tropical depression forming in the next 48 hours is 90 percent.
- Tropical storm, hurricane and storm surge watches could be issued for the northern Gulf Coast as early as Wednesday.
Full Tropical Weather Forecast:
Tropical development is possible during the next several days in the Gulf of Mexico.
A broad area of low pressure will track south of north Florida and move over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico sometime Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. As this low pressure area moves over the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, a surface low-pressure system will begin to develop.
As of 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center predicts a 90-percent chance that this area of low pressure will develop into a tropical depression or a tropical storm over the next couple of days.
A tropical system will not acquire a name until it strengthens to a tropical storm. A storm achieves tropical storm status once the storm has maximum sustained winds of 39 mph, but do not exceed 73 mph. If this system becomes a tropical storm, it will be named Barry.
As the system develops it will track west away from the Florida Peninsula, but some indirect impacts will still be possible.
As the low-pressure system strengthens on Wednesday, the winds will begin to increase, especially along the coast. Wind speeds are likely to range between 10-15 mph with occasional gusts as high as 30-35 mph.
This persistent wind out of the south and southwest, potentially into Friday, may result in higher than normal tides; and some minor coastal flooding could be possible.
In addition to breezy conditions and the threat for minor coastal flooding, the developing system will draw up abundant tropical moisture. Any showers and storms that develop will have the potential to produce locally heavy rain and possibly result in flooding. Generally speaking, flooding as a result of heavy rain is not a major concern for Tampa Bay, but some localized impacts may be seen.
Forecast models are in fairly good agreement of the track of the storm through Thursday morning, but after that, there is a fair amount of divergence in thinking. The spread of the greatest impact stretches from Alabama to Texas with Louisiana and Mississippi right in the middle.
The European Model, historically one of the more reliable forecast models, strengthens the storm as it approaches the Louisiana Coast Friday into Saturday.
Regardless of development, this system has the potential to produce heavy rainfall along portions of the northern and eastern U.S. Gulf Coast later this week and into the weekend. Some forecasts suggest that rainfall totals could be greater than one foot along the central Gulf coast.
While the focus with a tropical system is often with the winds speeds, flooding rains are often the deadliest hazard. The threat for inland flooding needs to be monitored closely all along the central and eastern Gulf coast.
In any event, we're well into the swing of hurricane season. It's not too late to prepare a hurricane kit and have a plan in place should a storm threaten the area.
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