Weather Disturbance Heading to Gulf

Jul 8, 2019

Credit National Hurricane Center

Residents along the northern Gulf Coast are being urged to watch conditions, as a tropical depression is likely to form in the Gulf of Mexico by the end of the week.

Low pressure over central Georgia is forecast to move southward, helping to form a broad area of low pressure in a couple of days. It seems a bit unusual a front is moving north to south instead of vice-versa; but not really, says Dennis Feltgen at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

“We’re all used to seeing those tropical waves coming off the coast of Africa, and we’ve got lots of time to watch it,” Feltgen says. “But about a third of the systems that eventually become tropical cyclones actually develop from something that didn’t have anything to do with the tropics.”

The trough is expected to move towards the eastern Gulf of Mexico; there’s an 80% chance it’s will form into a tropical depression.

“And sitting in that warm environment with that low wind shear and warm Gulf waters, it is certainly possible that a tropical depression is going to form by the end of the week,” Feltgen says. “And that low’s just going to meander along the northern Gulf Coast and drifting westward.”

Once over water, Feltgen says the system will feed off its energy and has the potential to bring heavy rain along the northern and eastern Gulf Coast. But for now, it’s too early for specifics in the forecast – which currently encompasses a wide swath. 

Dennis Feltgen, National Hurricane Center, Miami.
Credit nhc noaa

“From Tampa Bay going northward, all along the Gulf Coast; going westward to New Orleans and maybe even farther west than that,” says Feltgen. “That’s something you’re going to have to keep checking your local forecast for; but certainly there is the potential for heavy rainfall.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis is urging residents in north and central Florida to be prepared for possible heavy rain and the potential for flooding in low-lying areas. Also advising preparation is Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson.

“Pensacola is likely to get significant flash flood/thunderstorm activity,” said the Mayor during his weekly news conference. “While it may not even be a hurricane, I don’t think at this point anybody can afford not to be prepared for weather and what may happen with flash flooding.”

Fire Chief Ginny Cranor – who doubles as the Pensacola’s Emergency Operations Director – has been coordinating with Escambia County and with the city.

“She’s been sending it to every other department, so we are well aware of the potential that’s there,” said Robinson. “We’re trying to get that ready but even if it’s not a full-blown hurricane, I think we’ve got to be vigilant.”

Those still recovering from Hurricane Michael are among the people being advised to brace for what could be the 2019 hurricane season’s second named storm – Barry.

“What they need to do is be checking in with their weather forecast; nothing’s going to happen until we get into the middle part of the week, says Dennis Feltgen at the National Hurricane Center. “What I would certainly be prepared for right now is just a lot of rain”

“And you should have done it already because we’re into the hurricane season; but if you haven’t, make sure you’ve got a hurricane plan.”

The 2019 hurricane season began June 1 and will continue through November 30.