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Tue Jul 9, 2019, 07:48 PM

92L Moving Into Gulf Mexico, May Develop Into a Tropical Depression

Heavy thunderstorms have begun to fire up over the northern Gulf of Mexico in association with an area of low pressure (92L) centered over the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday morning. This system was headed south at about 5 mph and has the potential to develop into a tropical depression as early as Wednesday. Regardless of development, a large section of the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico will see very heavy rains of 3+ inches over the coming week. In their 8 am EDT Tuesday Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) gave 92L 2-day and 5-day odds of development of 50% and 80%, respectively.


Precipitation forecast
Figure 1. Predicted 7-day rainfall amounts ending at 8 am EDT Tuesday, July 16, 2019. A tropical disturbance (92L) is predicted to bring heavy rains of 5+ inches (orange colors) to Gulf Coast from Texas to Louisiana. Image credit: NOAA.

Favorable conditions for development expected
Generally favorable conditions for development are expected late this week over the northern Gulf of Mexico. Florida had its third warmest June on record, and this has allowed sea surface temperatures (SSTs) over the northeastern Gulf to become unusually warm, near 30 - 31°C (86 - 88°F), more than 1°C (1.8°F) above average. Wind shear was a moderate 10 – 20 knots on Tuesday morning, and was predicted to remain at this level through Saturday by the 12Z Tuesday run of the SHIPS model. The atmosphere will be moist enough to support development, with a mid-level relative humidity near 60%—though some dry air over Louisiana may wrap into the disturbance on Wednesday, slowing development.

All three of our top models for predicting tropical cyclone formation—the European, GFS, and UKMET models—predicted with their 0Z Tuesday runs that a tropical depression or tropical storm would develop in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico by Thursday. By Thursday, steering currents over the Gulf of Mexico will shift, resulting in 92L turning to the west and moving at a forward speed of about 5 mph. On this track, the models agree that the system should make landfall somewhere along the Louisiana or Texas coast on Saturday.

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