Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tropical Trouble Brewing for SW Gulf of Mexico Next Week?

"As advertised" for the past few weeks, the tropical weather season in the Atlantic Basin is not ready to give up the fight just yet. For one thing, I believe the system that impacted Florida on Sunday evening will be classified as a Tropical Storm in the post-season review (I'm not the only one who feels that the National Hurricane Center dropped the ball on that one, but I digress - thanks for letting me get that off my chest).  

Anyway, back to the post at hand...the GFS and a few of the other models have become rather consistent over the past few runs in suggesting that a tropical system will develop near the Yucatan peninsula by this weekend.  Below is the latest GFS surface forecast image, valid 7am CDT on Saturday, 10-15-11 (system circled in purple toward the right center portion of the image):

The model generally keeps the system stationary or moving very slowly Westward, emerging out over the extreme southwestern Gulf of Mexico by 7am CDT on Tuesday, October 18th:

The system is then forecast to be "held up" by a rather strong surface cold front, with the model keeping the system nearly stationary over the far southwest Gulf during the period Wednesday through Friday of next week.  By 1am CDT on Saturday, October 22nd, the model forecasts the system to have intensified over the southwestern Gulf (now shown in the yellow circle for better contrast):

...before moving onshore along the Mexican coast to the South of Brownsville by 1pm CDT on Sunday, October 23rd:

My typical disclaimer applies here:  we're still quite a ways out on the valid time of this forecast, so much could change...  With that said, the GFS model has had a pretty good run of predicting the general location of tropical systems in the medium to long range recently....

The ECMWF model, which also has a pretty solid track record of longer range tropical prediction, is also suggesting a disturbance over the far southwestern Gulf next week.  The image below is valid 7am CDT on Friday, October 21, with the potential system in question circled in yellow:

What all this means is that we need to keep an eye on the Yucatan / southwest Gulf region next week, and be prepared for the possibility of some type of landfalling system along the Mexican coast in about 10-12 days.  Based on the current forecast location of high pressure behind the cold front at that time late next week or next weekend, a landfall in Texas does not seem likely.  However, it is possible that some rain could penetrate that far Northward - depending on exactly where the center of the system makes landfall.  Stay tuned!!

If the above computer model forecasts verify, the NHC will surely get around to naming this one...

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