60% CHANCE OF TROPICAL STORM DEVELOPMENT IN GULF; RAIN FOR LOCAL AREA THIS WEEKEND… The National Hurricane Center continues to increase the chances of a tropical or subtropical storm developing in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico in the next 48-72 hours. NHC now says there is a 60% chance of a tropical or subtropical storm. For everyone wondering what is different about a subtropical storm, please see the detailed paragraph below (spoiler: not too different at all). What this means for those of us in south Alabama and northwest Florida is: Increased rain chances Saturday through Monday. MORE beneficial, drought-reliving rainfall, other potential impacts closer to the coast. Let’s look at your updated Wednesday evening details…
POTENTIAL LOCAL IMPACTS IN SOUTH ALABAMA & NW FLORIDA… For now, the headlines with this developing potential tropical or subtropical storm remain mostly positive for our local area! Regardless of if this tropical disturbance acquires formal tropical or subtropical characteristics, heavy rain will be likely at times this weekend across our area. This will continue to help mitigate localized drought conditions. The greater chances of rain will clearly happen closer to the immediate Alabama and northwest Florida beach zones. Depending on the exact track of this developing system, there also could be gusty (30-50mph) winds at the immediate coastal areas, isolated tornadoes across the region, and potentially isolated instances of flash flooding. Significant wind issues are not expected for any of our inland areas, as this will likely be a fairly “weak” tropical/subtropical storm. “Weak” is subjective, and there still could be significant impacts closer to the coast, however.
TROPICAL VS. SUBTROPICAL STORM… The best analogy I can give you about the differences in a tropical storm versus a subtropical storm involves vehicles. Think of a tropical storm as a Toyota RAV4. (That is what I drive.) A normal car gets you where you’re going by burning gasoline. Think of a subtropical storm as a hybrid Toyota RAV4. A hybrid vehicle uses additional technology to get better fuel economy, but it is still a car. Both tropical and subtropical storms have pretty much the SAME impacts for coastal areas: Heavy rain, gusty winds, and coastal flooding. The difference is tropical systems have a pure warm core center, while subtropical storms generally don’t (at least at first). It’s a super technical definition, but the big takeaway I want you to remember is that IMPACTS are the same!
LANDFALL COULD HAPPEN FROM LOUISIANA EASTWARD TO THE BIG BEND… We simply don’t know just yet where the low-level center of this tropical or subtropical storm will form, thus we can’t give a good estimation of where landfall will happen. The latest model guidance suggests landfall will happen somewhere between Morgan City, Louisiana eastward to Cedar Key, Florida. That is a big swath of the northern Gulf Coast that includes all of our local coastal zones. It is too early to know exactly where this system will track, but that will determine quite a bit about what impacts any given area experiences. Stay tuned over the next few days as we continue to monitor this system.
INTENSITY GUIDANCE SUGGESTS TROPICAL STORM… Anytime we have a tropical system in one of the peak hurricane season months in the Gulf, there is always a chance we could have some surprises in store. Long-time viewers and readers remember the rapid intensification that happened with Hurricane Michael (up to category 5 status right before landfall). Hurricane Opal was also a rapidly intensifying October hurricane. The good news is I am NOT seeing anything to suggest that this system will become a hurricane before landfall. Could that change? Yes, and that’s why we monitor the tropics so intently. However, confidence remains high that this will be a weak or moderate tropical storm at the time of landfall in a few days. The high-end scenario points to a moderate tropical storm. The low-end scenario points to a tropical disturbance with quite a bit of rainfall.
FEELING GOOD OUTSIDE TONIGHT… It feels incredible outside now that the cold front has passed through our region! Some spots north of U.S. Highway 84 on Thursday morning may be in the upper-40s! I expect most of our area to be in the 50s for overnight lows both on Thursday and Friday mornings. High temperatures Thursday and Friday will be in the 70s.
FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL FORECAST… This forecast will greatly depend on the future track of the tropical system discussed above. If we get more rain and are on the eastern side of the developing area of low pressure (whether it is a tropical storm or not), there is a chance we may have to increase rain chances for the Friday night football games. If, however, we’re on the western side of the system, that would point to a potentially drier solution. For now, we’ll call it a 20-30% chance of showers and storms Friday evening with temperatures in the 65-70° range.
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I’ll have your next full forecast video posted by 7:15AM on Thursday. Let me know if you have any questions. See you then!