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90% CHANCE: TROPICAL STORM GORDON IN GULF THIS WEEK… The National Hurricane Center has increased their official projection of tropical storm formation in the eastern Gulf of Mexico this week to a 90% chance. We can say with higher confidence that at least some impacts are likely in portions of south Alabama and northwest Florida in the days ahead, particularly the threat of heavy rain that could lead to flash flooding. Other impacts, including the potential for isolated tornadoes, are also possible. A Rip Current Warning has been issued for all local beaches, valid NOW through Thursday. We’re also monitoring Tropical Storm Florence way out in the Atlantic and we’ve got your forecast for the end of the week when we should be drier. Plenty to discuss in this special live update. Please read the entirety of this long, detailed post as it will answer many questions.
TROPICAL STORM DEVELOPMENT LIKELY… The latest Tropical Weather Outlook from the National Hurricane Center now indicates there is a 80-90% chance of tropical storm formation in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico over the next few days. If the system develops into a classified tropical storm, it will take the name “Gordon.” This will be a fast-moving system, regardless of classification, as it moves toward the northern Gulf Coast. While the center of circulation will likely pass near or just to the south of our local area, the probability of local impacts are growing. Again, this post is for south Alabama and northwest Florida. If you’re in Mississippi, Louisiana, or Texas, we encourage you to check out local, reliable weather sources there to get the latest info as it WILL be different compared to our local area.
POTENTIAL IMPACTS FOR SOUTH ALABAMA & NW FLORIDA…
FLASH FLOODING & HEAVY RAIN POTENTIAL… (Confidence: Medium-High) There is now higher confidence that the greatest potential impact for our local area will be tropical downpours of heavy rain that could lead to flash flooding. The latest Quantitative Precipitation Forecast issued by the Weather Prediction Center has areas near the Alabama and northwest Florida beaches reciving upwards of 3-5 inches of rain over the next five days. There will be a substantial drop off in rain amounts across our area as you head northward. This means that places like Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Dauphin Island may pick up 4 to 5 inches of rain, while places inland like Thomasville, Beatrice, Greenville, Evergreen, Andalusia, and Opp may only get 1-2” of rain (or less). Our coastal counties will have the greatest risk of flash flooding as the tropical system approaches on Tuesday into Wednesday, meaning Mobile, Baldwin, Escambia (FL), Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton counties.
TORNADO POTENTIAL… (Confidence: Low) Coastal counties also will have the highest risk of seeing an isolated tornado as this system moves by. Timing on this potential impact is still too be determined as the tornado risk will clearly be greatest as the core of the system moves by and when our area is on the eastern flank of the system. At this point, that looks to be Tuesday P.M. into Wednesday A.M. That could change in the days ahead.
WIND IMPACTS POTENTIAL… (Confidence: Medium) Mobile and Baldwin County, particularly near the beaches, could have 30-50mph wind gusts as this tropical system moves by. Northwest Florida beaches and locales near there could have 30-40mph wind gusts. Generally, the closer you are to the immediate coastline, the greater your chances are of having higher wind gusts. At this point, wind impacts are not expected for inland areas.
RIP CURRENT WARNING… (Confidence: Very High) More people have died in south Alabama and northwest Florida due to rip currents at local beaches compared to all other weather-related hazards combined in the last 22 years. A *Rip Current Warning* is in effect for all Alabama and northwest Florida beaches through Thursday, meaning if you can’t swim well, you need to stay out of the water. It’s that simple. Rip currents are deadly and I would imagine double red flags will fly at most beaches locally midweek.
COASTAL FLOODING POSSIBLE… (Confidence: Low) Minor instances of coastal flooding may become possible midweek, especially at the Alabama beaches, as this tropical system moves by. Waves will be big, obviously, as this system approaches.
IMPACTS REGARDLESS OF CLASSIFICATION… Regardless of if this system is a tropical wave or tropical depression or tropical storm as it moves by, the heavy rain and flash flooding impacts are likely. Midweek will be especially wet for our region. Depending on the specific track and placement of the system, the other above mentioned impacts will be possible.
SCATTERED STORMS TODAY & MONDAY… Another seasonal round of showers and thunderstorms will happen over the next few hours across our region. These storms are not associated with the tropical system. Same thing for Monday, when seabreeze-induced storms will pop up in the heat of the day. High temps today and tomorrow will be in the upper-80s.
DRIER END TO WEEK… We note that the tropical system will kick out of our area on Wednesday most likely, leading to a somewhat drier end to the week with only (seasonal) isolated to scattered instances of heavy rain. Friday Night Lights looks seasonal with temps in the 80s with a 30-40% chance of showers and storms.
APP & ALERTS… Be sure to visit the Alerts tab (bottom right corner here in the RZWeather app) then tap the large, yellow “Alert Settings” button to customize the alerts you’d like to receive straight from me. No automated alerts! They’re all handcrafted by me.
Busy few days ahead. We’ll keep you posted. Let me know if you have any weather-related questions!