Friday, September 9, 2011

Tropical Storm Nate Likely to Become a Hurricane - Make Westward Turn...

Above is the latest infrared satellite image of Tropical Storm Nate, which continues to slowly organize over the far southwestern Gulf of Mexico.   The system is currently centered about 125 miles West of Campeche, Mexico, and drifting Northwestward at about 2 mph.  As of the 7am CDT National Hurricane Center (NHC) advisory, the maximum sustained winds were estimated at 65 mph, with a minimum central pressure of 29.47 inches of mercury (998 millibars).

Nate continues to reside over some very warm water in the Bay of Campeche, and further strengthening seems likely.  Nate is currently expected to reach hurricane strength later today or early Saturday morning.  While the expected intensification of Nate is relatively easy to forecast, I've been writing for several days now about how the expected track of Nate is a much more difficult equation to solve...

Based on the latest computer model data, which is coming into a greater overall consensus, an area of high pressure is forecast to develop over western and central Mexico in the next 24-36 hours, which will result in a Northwesterly flow to the immedate North and West of Nate (see blue arrow on the latest GFS forecast model image below, which is valid at 4pm CDT Saturday):

This will likely result in a shift toward the West with respect to the future track of Nate, as indicated by the latest official forecast from the NHC:

Some of the models had been expecting Nate to be drawn more toward the Northeast into an area of low pressure taking shape over the Mississippi Valley region (red arrow on the 4pm Saturday GFS model image above).  At this time it appears that Nate will be too far South to be caught up in that system, especially as Northwesterly flow aloft increases during the next 24 hours in response to the developing high pressure dome over Mexico.  

With the above in mind, I tend to agree with the current NHC forecast of a more Westward turn with respect to Nate over the weekend.  This would likely bring the system onshore along the central Mexican coast late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

Unfortunately, as I've been pointing out all along, there is no meaningful potential for rain heading into Texas in association with Nate.  Furthermore, the Northerly flow aloft will tend to spread residual rains Southward into Mexico rather than allowing anything to progress to the North the way it looks at this time.

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