The National Weather Service and most other forecasters expect the storm to stall about 100 miles off the Louisiana coast and remain off Louisiana for several days, gaining strength, before moving on to Texas. Some forecasts
send the system to Florida.
AccuWeather.com meteorologists expect a named tropical storm to develop and then wander through the Gulf of Mexico through the Labor Day holiday weekend. They say they are “very confident” that at least a tropical depression
and probably a tropical storm will form in the western or central Gulf Friday or over this weekend and that system will likely move very slowly.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the trough of low pressure over the central Gulf was producing a large area of cloudiness, thunderstorms, and gusty winds, mainly on its east side, on Thursday morning.
“Upper level winds are currently unfavorable for development, according to the Thursday morning advisory. “However, conditions are forecast to become more conducive later today and the system could become a tropical
depression during the next day or so.”
In very 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 greatest potential now with the system is heavy rainfall. However, if it strengthens quickly over the Gulf of Mexico, as some tropical systems do, winds and waves could also be a concern for coastal areas.
The system is slowly beginning to build an increased amount of heavy thunderstorms, and this process will accelerate today when the wave enters the Gulf of Mexico. By Friday, when the wave will be near the Louisiana or Texas
coast, wind shear, which can inhibit storm growth, is expected to drop to low to moderate levels, and the wave may be able to organize into a tropical depression.
This process will likely take several days, and formation of a tropical depression is more likely Saturday or Sunday. Regardless, this system will spread heavy rains to portions of the Gulf Coast by Friday, with the Upper
Texas coast and the coast of Louisiana the most likely recipients of heavy rain. Strong onshore winds raising tides one to two feet above normal are likely over Louisiana beginning on Friday. Warnings have been issued for the parts of coastal Louisiana.
Because the weather patterns that will steer the storm are very weak it is hard to predict where the storm might go.
One model has a tropical depression forming by Sunday off the coast of Mississippi, then moving east-northeast over the Florida Panhandle on Monday.
Another model forms the storm on Monday off the coast of Texas, and leaves the storm stalled out there through Wednesday. Yet another model forms the storm
Saturday off the coast of Louisiana, and leaves it stalled out there through Monday.
If the storm does remain in the Gulf of Mexico for three days as some of the models have been predicting, it would be a threat to intensify into a hurricane.