Forecasters eye Gulf of Mexico as hurricane season begins

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Moisture from Invest 91E in the Pacific could make its way into the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend. (Credit: SFWMD)

UPDATE: The Northeast Pacific’s second tropical depression of the season formed Wednesday, and the National Hurricane Center predicted it would become Tropical Storm Beatriz on Thursday.

The official NHC forecast kept the storm off the southwest coast of Mexico, but in fact forecast models are split on the future of the system.

“A mid- to upper-level trough seen in water vapor imagery over northern Mexico is expected to steer the cyclone slowly northeastward for the next 36 hours or so,” Senior Hurricane Specialist Jack Beven said in an advisory.

“After that, there is significant divergence in the track guidance. The GFS, Canadian, and HWRF models move the cyclone inland over southeastern Mexico in 48-60 hours, while the ECMWF and UKMET show the system stalling over the Pacific as a weak mid-level ridge builds to the north.”

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ORIGINAL POST: Will the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season kick off with a bang next week in the Gulf of Mexico?

Several ingredients are coming together to suggest the possibility, including the development of a potential tropical storm off the southwest coast of Mexico.

Forecast models predict that Invest 91E in the Northeast Pacific — which was on the brink Wednesday morning of becoming the basin’s second depression, or Tropical Storm Beatriz — will impact southern Mexico by the weekend, with its remnants moving into the Gulf of Mexico.

If that happens, Beatriz could either redevelop or contribute moisture to another area of disturbed weather already in the southern Gulf.

The scenario was detailed on Weather.com (The Weather Channel) in a Wednesday morning analysis. Forecasters are warning of heavy rainfall from the northern Gulf Coast to the Florida peninsula early next week.

TD 2E
Tropical Depression Two-E formed off Mexico on Wednesday. (Credit: NOAA)

The second storm on the Atlantic list is Bret, although a crossover system retains its name if it remains intact after moving into the new basin. That seems unlikely though, according to forecasters.

Tropical Storm Arlene formed April 19 in the Central Atlantic.

At minimum, it looks like Florida’s dry spell is about to end. “Both the GFS and ECMWF show abundant moisture continuing to move over the region through at least early next week,” forecasters at the National Weather Service in Miami said in Wednesday’s discussion.

NWS Key West: “A low-level trough will develop over the western Gulf of Mexico, while the western flank of a deep ridge erodes slightly over the Florida Peninsula. This subtle change will facilitate greater shower and thunderstorm coverage and higher rain chances….”

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center is back to showing significant rainfall along the Gulf Coast and around the Florida peninsula, with 4.8 inches forecast through the middle of next week just off the coast of East-Central Florida and 3.8 inches predicted for the Keys.

The panhandle could also get walloped.

At this point, precipitation totals look light to moderate in South Florida.

HURRICANE SEASON NOTE: Colorado State University releases its updated forecast on Thursday, the official start of the 2017 Atlantic season.

The UK’s Tropical Storm Risk released an updated forecast May 26, increasing the number of predicted named storms to 14, with six hurricanes and three intense hurricanes. This would be an average season.

In April, TSR called for 11 named storms. “The TSR forecast has increased since early April 2017 due to the recent trend towards negative North Atlantic Oscillation conditions which favor warmer hurricane main development waters in August-September, and to the decreased likelihood that El Niño conditions will develop by August-September,” forecasters said.

The hurricane season runs from June 1-November 30.

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Author: jnelander

Freelance writer and editor

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