7:10AM July 6, 2019

HOT SATURDAY; P.M. STORMS TODAY; TROPICAL UPDATE… Heat index values will likely surpass 105° in isolated spots across south Alabama and northwest Florida this afternoon. A Heat Advisory is in effect from 11AM to 7PM. The atmosphere has so much heat content and instability in place that scattered showers and thunderstorms will pop up in the afternoon and evening hours. We’re also continuing to monitor the potential for a tropical storm to spin up in the Gulf of Mexico in 5-7 days. Let’s look at your weather headlines on this Saturday…

SCATTERED STORMS THIS AFTERNOON… We maintain a 40-50% chance of showers and thunderstorms this afternoon into this evening across our local area. Some of the thunderstorms may be on the strong side, capable of producing gusty winds and cloud-to-ground lightning. While storms are most likely to happen in the P.M. hours, I can’t completely rule out a shower or storm late this morning as well. Widespread severe weather is not expected today.

HEAT ADVISORY TODAY… The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory today for much of our local area, meaning prolonged exposure to the hot conditions can increase risk of heat related illnesses (heat exhaustion, cramps, and heat stroke). This Heat Advisory is in effect from 11AM to 7PM. This isn’t (or shouldn’t be) breaking news to anyone, but take it easy if you’re working outside for a long time today. Dewpoint temperatures are excessively high today and when you combine that with air temperatures likely to peak around 98° in most spots, you get a very hot summer day!

SEASONAL DAYS AHEAD… We’ll really begin focusing on the tropical development potential late next week in the days ahead. Before we get to the latter half of the upcoming week, we’ve got a seasonal weather pattern in store. High temperatures will be in the 90s with morning lows in the mid-70s with a 30-50% chance of showers and thunderstorms each day from Sunday to Wednesday.

LATEST ON TROPICAL DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL… If you saw my detailed post last evening about the chance of tropical development in the Gulf of Mexico, you’re up to speed on the latest information. Not much has changed since last night. Some of the global weather models, including the ECMWF/Euro, show the potential for a landfalling tropical storm along the northern Gulf Coast late next week. There continues to be ample uncertainty as far as details. We simply don’t know a) IF the system will develop into a tropical storm, b) where landfall will happen if formal development occurs, and c) the intensity of this potential tropical storm. Those details will come into focus in the days ahead. I would suggest late Monday into Tuesday is when we will have a better understanding of what will likely happen. The data today and tomorrow is still 5-6 days out from this. I’ll keep you posted.

The following information is a good review from the post last evening…

TROPICAL DEVELOPMENT POSSIBLE “CLOSE TO HOME” NEXT WEEK… There is a small, yet growing, chance that an area of low pressure may form in the northern Gulf of Mexico toward the end of next week into the next weekend (July 10-14) that could become a tropical storm. While there are still MANY uncertainties, consistent model data continues to support the idea of some tropical mischief in the northern Gulf late next week. These model signals point to increased rain chances late next week for south Alabama and northwest Florida, at bare minimum. Again, we have more questions than answers at this point as to IF or when this tropical storm will form. Let’s talk about what we do know…

MODEL IDEA GAINING TRACTION… The ECMWF (Euro) model started hinting yesterday that a surface area of low pressure may form in the northern Gulf of Mexico at the tail end of a trough by the end of next week. The European model continues to suggest this area of low pressure will develop in the northern Gulf before looping back to the northeast and making landfall somewhere along the northern Gulf Coast. It’s too early to know whether this landfall will be as a designated tropical storm or as a general, “weaker” area of low pressure. The American-based Global Forecast System (GFS) has also hinted at this same potential. It is important to note that not all models are on board with this idea, with the Canadian and NAVGEM models not alluding to this potential at all.

INCONSISTENT MODEL DATA EXPECTED… While the overall idea of an area of low pressure seems to be gaining traction with the major global models, it is totally normal to see models “all over the board” at this stage of this process. Models will continue to get a better grasp of the atmospheric setup as we go through the weekend and get into early next week. Data will likely become more consistent, and thus I’ll be able to give more details as we get closer to this potential tropical storm event.

INCREASED RAIN CHANCES LIKELY… Regardless of if formal development of a tropical storm happens, there will likely be increased rain chances toward the end of next week into the weekend. Keep in mind, there is a high chance (at this point) that a surface low-level circulation doesn’t form and instead this is an area of low pressure in the atmosphere that will fling more moisture into our area from the south. Obviously IF a low-level center forms, we’ll have more issues to worry about (high wind gusts near the coast, perhaps isolated tornadoes) but it’s just too early to know whether that’ll happen.

SEA SURFACE TEMPS IN GULF… We note much of the northern Gulf of Mexico has sea surface temperatures (SSTs) near 84°. Typically, tropical systems need SSTs of near 80° to form.

BEYOND THAT, MAJOR UNCERTAINTY… No one, and I mean absolutely no one, knows IF this system will, indeed, materialize into a tropical storm and threaten the United States. Is that a small possibility as of now? Yes, but there’s been low consistency as to where the system will ultimately end up (both on the GFS and Euro). I would suggest everyone from Louisiana eastward to north Florida keep an eye on this system. Obviously, that includes ALL of our local area in south Alabama and northwest Florida. No need for fear, panic, or anxiety as no one knows if this system will develop or where it will end up, however the idea is there for a minimal tropical storm potential in the northern Gulf next week.

WHAT IS CAUSING THIS POTENTIAL… There will be a trough, or a dip in the jet stream, in place across the southeastern U.S. on Wednesday into Thursday (July 10-11). This trough will sag southward into the northern Gulf where a surface area of low pressure will likely develop in the northeastern or north central Gulf of Mexico likely on Friday into Saturday (a week from today). Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are in the 84-87 degree range in this part of the Gulf, meaning there is plenty of fuel in place for a potential tropical storm. SSTs are only one factor, though. We note that upper level atmospheric winds/shear looks favorable for the development of a tropical storm.

SOCIAL MEDIA CRAZINESS AHEAD… Long-time viewers and readers know that it drives me crazy to see outlandish, inaccurate, wild weather model images circulating on social media. I suspect you’ll see crazy clickbait images in the days ahead regarding this system. The truth is, we don’t have a firm grip just yet of anything concrete. What we know at this point is there is a growing consensus that a tropical storm could form/move across the northern quadrant of the Gulf of Mexico late next week. Please join me in not sharing bad info… That just feeds the trolls and hype machine.

CHANGE PLANS? NO, NOT YET… For everyone who has been asking about changing cruise/vacation plans, my response remains “wait and see,” for now. We simply don’t have enough good information to suggest anyone should cancel any plans because of this. There is still a good chance that this weather system may simply mean increased rain chances by the end of next week.

APP ALERTS… I’ll have more details in the days ahead in our updated version (2.5) of the RedZone Weather app. redzoneweather.com/app is the link for the free download. Be sure to turn ON “Medium-Level Alerts” for the latest information about this system by visiting the Alerts tab (bottom right corner) and tapping the large, yellow “Alert Settings” button to customize which alerts you would like to receive from me.

Have a great weekend!

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