The university’s weather service is watching a system this evening. It’s still nothing to worry about, but I’ve been fooling myself into believing things will stay quiet all season. Much as we’d all like that, chances are they will not, and whether this threatens us or anyone else, or turns into nothing, it’s always a good idea to make sure our plans and preparations are in order. In my case, I’ve got a few things to do yet. A few weeks ago we posted the state evacuation routes and contraflow plans; they’re on our hurricane preparedness site. This is what the weather guys are saying Thursday afternoon:
At 4PM CDT, Tropical Depression Five was located about 105 miles southwest of the island of St. Lucia. Movement is to the west at 20-22 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 35 mph. Our forecast takes the developing tropical storm to the west-northwest toward the Yucatan Straits by late Tuesday morning. Confidence in this forecast track is about average.
Conditions are favorable for gradual strengthening over the next several days, and we think that the depression will likely become a tropical storm tonight. Once the storm reaches the northwest Caribbean Sea on Monday night there is some question about the amount of wind shear that it will encounter. We indicated continued slow development on Monday and Tuesday, taking the system to minimal hurricane strength on Tuesday. However, our confidence in the intensity forecast is low. Once the storm enters the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, conditions aloft should be more favorable for intensification, and it’s likely that hurricane strength will be reached in the south-central Gulf of Mexico.
As far as any potential landfall in on the Gulf Coast, there are indications of a high pressure area over the southeast U.S. by early next week. This should keep the storm moving on a general west-northwest track beyond day 5 of the forecast. The greatest risk for an eventual landfall would be from northern Mexico to the mid Louisiana coast around next Thursday.