Forecasters are watching the evolution of a tropical disturbance over the Yucatan Channel this morning.
The National Hurricane Center gives this system a 70 percent chance of developing at least into a tropical depression and possibly into Tropical Storm Don. None of the current predictions develop this system into a hurricane.
At 8 a.m., the National Hurricane Center posted this advisory: “Showers and hunderstorms associated with a tropical wave over the
northwestern Caribbean Sea just to the south of the western tip of Cuba have become better organized over the past few hours and surface observations suggest that a circulation could be forming about 50 miles east of Cancun Mexico. If these trends continue a tropical depression could develop later today.”
In simple terms, a tropical disturbance is a blob of thunderstorms gathered in a place and under conditions that could allow further development.
A tropical disturbance becomes a tropical depression when a distinct pattern of circulation can be seen but sustained wind speeds are 38 miles per hour or less.
Disturbances become tropical storms and are given names when they reach a sustained wind speed of 39 mph. When a storm reaches sustained wind speeds of 74 miles per hour, it officially becomes a hurricane.
The storm is expected to travel on a northwest path into the Gulf of Mexico.
Interaction with land prevented the tropical wave from becoming an organized tropical system during the past few days.
Now with the wave away from Cuba and over the deep warm water of the northwestern Caribbean, there are signs that an area of low pressure (the next phase of any developing tropical system) is beginning to take shape.
Without cool water or disruptive wind shear (strong winds high in the atmosphere) ahead of the system to bring about its demise, it is inevitable that the system will make landfall after it enters the western Gulf of Mexico.
Forecasters expect landfall to occur either late on Friday or Friday night. The question is where it will come ashore.
"The key to [the system's] movement will be the strength of the Bermuda high pressure ridge which is nosing westward across Florida into the northern Gulf of Mexico," according to AccuWeather meteorologist John Feerick.
If the ridge maintains its strength, the system will be forced toward south Texas or northern Mexico.
If the ridge weakens it would open the
door for the system to target the northwestern Gulf Coast including the possibility of a Louisiana landfall.