70% CHANCE OF TROPICAL DEVELOPMENT IN GULF THIS WEEKEND; LOCAL IMPACTS POSSIBLE… The National Hurricane Center says there is a 70% chance that a tropical storm will form near The Bahamas, south Florida, or in the eastern Gulf of Mexico over the next few days. This tropical disturbance, INVEST 95L, is currently situated over the southern Bahamas just north of the eastern tip of Cuba. The disturbance will move northwest in the days ahead, setting it up on a path to likely move into or near our local area in south Alabama or northwest Florida early next week. While there is a range of scenarios as to what could ultimately happen, I am encouraged that NO major weather models currently ramp this system up to hurricane status. Regardless of formal development, this system will likely provide beneficial rain for our area on both Sunday and Monday before it lifts northward. Let’s talk details…
POTENTIAL LOCAL IMPACTS – INVEST 95L… There is high confidence that rain chances will be high both Sunday evening and Monday as this tropical disturbance or tropical storm approaches our local area in south Alabama and northwest Florida from the southeast. Confidence on all other potential impacts remains low. Specific local impacts will largely depend on the strength of the system and the exact track of the center of circulation IF formal tropical development happens. Depending on the exact track, forward speed, and strength of this system, there could be a risk of isolated tornadoes, gusty winds near the immediate coastline, and heavy rain that could lead to flash flooding. This threat may set up farther to our east over south Georgia, southeast Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle IF the exact track of this area of low pressure is farther to our east. On the flip side, if the exact track is farther to the west, the core impact zone could be over southeast Mississippi and Louisiana. We just don’t have a firm grip of impacts until we get more insight into the future track of the system.
POTENTIAL LOCAL IMPACTS – TIMING… Rain chances will be highest from Sunday evening through Monday evening, although we note that there is a (lower) chance of scattered showers and storms on Saturday and Tuesday as well. IF impacts other than heavy rain happen, the best guidance right now suggests 8PM Sunday to 3PM Monday, although that is an estimate right now more than anything else. This impacts timeframe is HIGHLY subject to change in the days ahead. Please check back with me for the latest information in the days ahead.
95L: UNCERTAINTY, BUT HERE ARE THE SCENARIOS… While there is quite a bit of uncertainty about specifics concerning INVEST 95L, we’re trying something new today to convey this information to you. Let’s look at the high-end scenario of what would happen if the system is stronger than expected, the MOST likely scenario (mid-range of the model guidance), and the low-end scenario of what would happen if the system is weaker than expected. Thanks to everyone for the feedback on this method of uncertainty communication earlier. Let me know what you think about these scenarios.
HIGH-END SCENARIO: STRONG TROPICAL STORM… The intensity models simply do not show this system rapidly intensifying into a hurricane at this time. Good news! Instead, some of the outlier, higher intensity scenarios point to a tropical storm making landfall along the Florida Panhandle coast as a moderate tropical storm with maximum winds offshore of 50-60 mph. Under this scenario, there would be a slightly higher risk of isolated tornadoes near the immediate coastal zones NEAR and EAST of where the center of circulation makes landfall. Gusty winds would be likely at the beach zones near and east of the center. Inland impacts would largely be limited to heavy downpours of rain at times.
MOST LIKELY SCENARIO: WEAK TROPICAL STORM WITH COASTAL IMPACTS… The most likely scenario of what will happen with INVEST 95L is that the system will continue to move northwest, perhaps crossing the southern part of the Florida Peninsula near Miami in a day or two then emerging over the eastern Gulf on Friday. Beyond that, the system is expected to move northwest toward the Florida Panhandle, south Alabama, and perhaps southern Mississippi and east Louisiana. Most intensity models ramp the system up to a tropical storm with maximum winds of 40-50 mph. This scenario would largely be beneficial for much of south Alabama and northwest Florida as the system would be a good rainmaker for our region. Other impacts could potentially include some coastal flooding, perhaps an isolated tornado threat depending on the strength of the system, and gusty winds at the immediate beach zones. No wind impacts inland would be expected under this forecast/scenario.
LOW-END SCENARIO: AREA OF LOW PRESSURE/DISTURBANCE… There IS still a significant chance that INVEST 95L never develops into a formal tropical storm. What could happen is the system remains sheared and weak as it moves northwest toward our area. Regardless of if formal development happens, we still would need to call for higher rain chances for Sunday into Monday. This scenario would feature scattered to numerous showers and storms with breezy conditions at the immediate coastline. Other impacts, like isolated tornadoes and coastal flooding, would probably be mitigated since the system would be weaker.
APP ALERTS… Many consistent updates will be posted over the next few days in the RedZone Weather app. redzoneweather.com/app is the link for the free download. Be sure to visit the Alerts tab (bottom right corner) and tap the large, yellow “Alert Settings” button to customize the alerts you’d like to receive from me. Everyone should toggle ON Medium-Level Alerts. If you like a lot of info, be sure to toggle ON Low-Level Alerts.
NEXT UPDATE… I’ll have a detailed video and text discussion posted by 7:15AM on Thursday here on Facebook and in the RedZone Weather app. Until then, you can get our updates in the RedZone Weather app tonight. Let me know if you have any questions. Have a nice evening!