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Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 Will Bring Rain, Wind, Storm Surge Flooding to Parts of Gulf Coast, South; Warnings Issued
Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 is currently over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico.
Tropical storm watches and warnings have been posted for parts of the Gulf Coast.
This possible Gulf system is forecast to move toward the northern Gulf Coast this weekend.
Heavy rainfall is possible in parts of the Southeast plagued by a recent flash drought.
This system may also produce some surge flooding along and to the east of its track.
A tropical or subtropical storm, dubbed Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 by the National Hurricane Center, is likely to form in the Gulf of Mexico late Thursday or early Friday and will bring soaking rain, winds and coastal flooding to parts of the Southeast this weekend.
Right now, a disturbance is centered over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. The system is gradually organizing and is expected to gain at least some tropical cyclone characteristics.
Gulf Development Chance
Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 could be designated a tropical or subtropical depression or storm once it has a complete, counterclockwise surface circulation with organized thunderstorms nearby. If it becomes a tropical/subtropical storm, it would be called Nestor.
A tropical storm warning has been issued for parts of the northern Gulf Coast from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Ochlockonee River, Florida, and from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Pearl River.
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.
A tropical storm watch is in effect for east of the Ochlockonee River to Yankeetown, Florida.
Tropical storm watches indicate that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.
A storm surge warning has also been issued from Indian Pass, Florida, to Clearwater Beach, Florida. A storm surge warning means that there is a danger of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, during the next 36 hours.
Regardless of what meteorologists call it, this system is expected to move northeastward over the Gulf of Mexico and into the Southeast relatively quickly.
This system may produce much of its worst weather ahead and to the right of its center, and well outside of the cone of uncertainty shown below.
The system may gradually strengthen as water temperatures remain unusually warm in the Gulf of Mexico, but increasing upper-level winds over the northern Gulf of Mexico, which will help it move swiftly toward the northern Gulf Coast, should also produce wind shear, typically a strike against significant intensification of tropical cyclones.
Wind, waves and coastal flood/surge impacts depend on the size and strength of the Gulf system, which remains uncertain given the system hasn't formed in the Gulf, yet.
Storm Surge, Coastal Flooding
South to southwest winds ahead of the system blowing over a long fetch of the Gulf of Mexico may generate swells that may reach the northern and eastern Gulf Coasts as soon as Friday.
These swells could generate high surf and rip currents and could persist through Saturday.
The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.
Water could reach the following heights above ground if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide:
-3 to 5 feet from Indian Pass, Florida, to Chassahowitzka, Florida
-2 to 4 feet from Chassahowitzka, Florida, to Clearwater Beach, Florida
Tropical storm force winds are expected to first reach the coast within the warning area by late Friday, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous.
A few severe thunderstorms, including the risk of tornadoes, are possible in parts of the Southeast on Saturday, especially across northern and central Florida.
This system's relatively fast movement should keep it from becoming a major, widespread rainfall flood concern. Remember, a tropical storm or hurricane's rainfall potential largely depends on how fast it moves, not how strong it becomes.
Rain and thunderstorms are expected to arrive along parts of the northern and eastern Gulf Coasts Friday.