15 August 2003

Erika forms in the central Gulf...

At 21Z on Thursday, the disturbance I had mentioned off the coast of
Florida developed into Tropical Storm Erika, the fifth named storm of
the season.  It organized quickly upon entering the Gulf, and continues
to do so, threatening areas along the western Gulf coast.

As of 15Z today, TS Erika was located at 26.1N 91.4W and tracking W at
20kts.  This forward speed is racing it toward the coast, and the
question that remains is how fast will she intensify before making
landfall.  Current intensity is 45kts and 1008mb (surprisingly high
pressure considering the appearance).  The satellite presentation is
beautiful, with a cold CDO, obvious banding features, and symmetric
outflow aloft.  Cloud tops at the center are nearly -80C, with a large
dome of -70C or colder.  SSTs under the forecast track are in the 29-30C
range, supplying enormous amounts of energy to the storm.  And although
that warm water doesn't extend very deep, Erika is moving fast enough
that upwelling will not be a concern. (I'm a bit lost for words as to
why she hasn't developed faster... conditions seem optimal, yet she's
still a TS)

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for parts of the Texas coast
between Baffin Bay and Port O'Connor.  A Hurricane Warning is in effect
from Baffin Bay, TX southward to La Pesca, Mexico.

The forecast is for continued strengthening, and a westward track,
making landfall near Brownsville as a hurricane during the early morning
hours on Saturday.  With nearly 24 hours remaining until landfall from
the time of this writing, a lot can happen with a storm, and coastal
residents need to be prepared for the possibility of a rapid
intensification (NHC is typically and appropriately conservative with
their forecasts).

Elsewhere, a tropical wave that exited the African coast yesterday is
now at about 13N 25W (very near the Cape Verde Islands) and moving W at
10kts.  There is an embedded 1010mb Low with this wave, and conditions
in advance of it appear favorable for gradual development during the
weekend.  The next number/name on deck are TD9/Fabian.

I want to direct you
specifically to a great visible shot from 1445Z today, available at
You can clearly see Erika in the central Gulf, and the disturbance over
the Cape Verde Islands.

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

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