17 June 2021

Gulf of Mexico storm taking shape, warnings issued

The area of disturbed weather that I mentioned in my previous blog post on Monday morning has spent the past few days getting organized and is now well on its way to becoming the season's third tropical cyclone.

As of Thursday afternoon, it is classified as "Potential Tropical Cyclone 3", which means that it's still an Invest (not quite a tropical cyclone) but with watches and warnings attached because of its anticipated strengthening and proximity to land.  Indeed, tropical storm warnings are in effect from central Louisiana over to the Florida panhandle.

If this develops just a bit more, it will be upgraded to Tropical Depression 3, and then Tropical Storm Claudette.  But time is against it, as it will reach the northern Gulf coast by early Saturday.

It is a very broad and diffuse low pressure system, with a sprawling cloud shield displaced almost entirely to the east of the center. Although it has no chance of becoming anything menacing, it will bring heavy rain to the northern Gulf coast.  You will be able to monitor the rainfall using a long updating radar loop at http://bmcnoldy.rsmas.miami.edu/tropics/radar/. And as I mentioned on Monday, the areas that this storm will impact have still not recovered from the brutal 2020 hurricane season.  

The rainfall outlook over the coming week is shown here, and local totals could certainly be higher.  Peak values on this map are about one foot, and the widespread area covered by 3"+ (red-orange-yellow) is quite impressive.

It's worth mentioning that this system, an offshoot of a Central American gyre, has been in the model-world picture for nearly two weeks now!!  These can be notoriously slow to develop, and many never do.

[By the way, the system that was off the North Carolina coast on Monday was later upgraded to Tropical Storm Bill, but was short-lived as it raced off toward the northeast.]

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