17 October 2019

Gulf storm will bring rain, storm surge to northern Gulf coast on Fri-Sat

The disturbance that has been a feature of interest for one full week now is finally taking shape in the western Gulf of Mexico.  Although it is not forecast to become very strong, it will bring the threats of flooding rain and storm surge to areas from Louisiana to the northern Florida peninsula in the coming days.

Identified as "Invest 96L" for now, it could get transitioned to Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 before it forms which would facilitate tropical storm and storm surge warnings to be issued if warranted. If it does become a tropical or subtropical cyclone, the next number on deck is 16 and the next name is Nestor.

This 3-day rainfall forecast is valid through Sunday morning and highlights areas that could see some heavy rain:

Three-day rainfall forecast, from Thursday morning through Sunday morning. (NOAA/WPC)
The latest 50-member European model ensemble has some members with trackable low pressures, and they are all with wind speeds in the depression-to-storm range... and all other model guidance agrees with this type of track and limited intensity.  Although impacts will begin prior to landfall, landfall should occur early Saturday in the area between the mouth of the Mississippi River (LA) over to the Big Bend area (FL).

This intensity, track, and month, all closely resemble Tropical Storm Josephine in 1996.  It formed in the west-central Gulf, tracked toward the northeast, and made landfall in Florida's Big Bend area which is especially sensitive to storm surge.  Below is a newspaper clipping I have from October 9, 1996; it documents a 5-7 foot storm surge with no wind damage near Steinhatchee (on the coast, west of Gainesville). As a resident said, "I guess it don't have to be too bad to get bad. Things like this happen around here."

Newspaper from October 9, 1996 regarding Tropical Storm Josephine. (Reading Eagle)
Elsewhere in the basin, things are quiet, so all eyes are watching Invest 96L in the Gulf.

1 comment:

  1. Sure the mayor of Dauphin Island is paying attention. Gil Gaul, author The Geography of Risk.