8:00PM May 21, 2018

TROPICAL STORM FORMATION POSSIBLE LATER THIS WEEK… The National Hurricane Center now says there is a 30% chance that a tropical area of low pressure will become a tropical storm as it moves northward from the Caribbean Sea into the southern Gulf of Mexico later this week. There is still quite a bit of uncertainty as to what this system will do and where it will ultimately end up. Let’s look at the potential impacts for our local area followed by some discussion about what we don’t know just yet…

POTENTIAL LOCAL IMPACTS… The following details potential local impacts in south Alabama and northwest Florida. Confidence in each of the following potential impacts remain a bit hindered by model disagreements. Further refinements in the forecast will be needed later this week.

FLOODING CONCERNS… The greatest concern at the moment is that flash flooding could become an issue across our area this weekend REGARDLESS of if tropical storm formation happens. It doesn’t take an official tropical name (like Alberto) for a system to dump a lot of rain, and indeed, that is what is expected with this system. We note the latest QPF (Quantitative Precipitation Forecast) has a max of 3-5” of expected rain over the next 5 days across much of southeast Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. Numerous thunderstorms will be likely this weekend as this system interacts with our regular seabreeze, sparking widespread rain and storms across our area.

COASTAL FLOODING & BEACHES… Depending on the specific track of the area of low pressure, coastal flooding issues could become a concern across the Alabama and northwest Florida beaches. NWS Mobile has indicated that the risk of rip currents may be changed to HIGH for later this week. This would likely mean that some local beaches will go to “double red flag” conditions, meaning no one is allowed in the water. Again, this is all subject to change based on the revised track of the system.

TORNADO IMPACT POTENTIAL… Still too early to say whether tornadoes will be an issue with this system, although we only have to look back to Tropical Storm Cindy last year to see that tornadoes can be an issue with tropical storms. I’ll have more about this potential and if it will set up, later this week.

MODEL DISAGREEMENTS… The Global Forecast System (GFS) and its ensemble members continue to show this area of low pressure taking a more easterly track, near the Florida Peninsula (think Miami, Tampa, Orlando generalized area). The ECMWF (Euro) model brings the core of the system into Louisiana later this week as a minimal tropical storm. As far as intensity, the system will likely be battling a good bit of shear and sea surface temperatures (SSTs) that are not overly impressive. SSTs are still high enough to support the formation of a tropical storm, however.

APP… I’ll have plenty of updates in the days ahead here in the RedZone Weather app. Be sure to visit the Alerts tab in the bottom right corner of the app if you haven’t already and tap the large, yellow “Alert Settings” button to customize the alerts you would like to get from me. I have a feeling I’ll be sending a lot of tropical alerts this week to our “Medium-Level Alerts.”

Let me know if you have specific questions. Have a great evening!

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