Gulf System Likely to Eventually Become Debby, Track Still not a Given

By: Levi32 , 2:32 PM GMT on June 21, 2012

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The Gulf of Mexico is coming to life as low pressure is now developing in the central part of the gulf. The developing circulation is still elongated with one lobe of low pressure west of Key West and the other down near the NW coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, acting as a trough extension to the monsoon low over central America. The area is still experiencing moderate wind shear, but the shear has relaxed to below 10 knots near the Yucatan Channel as an upper ridge starts to build northward in the wake of the retreating upper low over Florida mentioned yesterday. The environment will be slowly improving with time, and should allow the eventual organization of this disturbance into tropical storm Debby in a few days.

The track of this system remains the biggest question, as the models are split about in half on whether it will move into the NW gulf or escape northeast over Florida. My forecast remains that the system will get caught by the Texas ridge and move in the NW gulf, making landfall in southern Texas or northern Mexico. However, the northeast escape route cannot be dismissed either, so the entire gulf coast, especially Texas and Florida, should be on alert for the possibility of a landfalling tropical cyclone early next week. Florida is already set up to get tons of rain from this system regardless. In the video I show the current model projections and why I am sticking with the westward track. This is a particularly difficult forecasting situation, and any forecast won't have a high degree of confidence until the models finally form a consensus on the track.

One thing the models do agree on now is that this system should develop into a tropical cyclone of some kind. The CMC and ECMWF are taking the storm to hurricane strength, which may be overdone, but it raises the concern over how long this disturbance will be sitting in the gulf. The models keep pushing the time frame back due to how long the system stalls waiting for the east coast trough, and we're still talking about 5-7 days or more before this is out of our hair. With that much time, it is possible that the storm will have enough time to come together and become stronger than originally thought, but we will know more about the potential strength after the track is better-known, for that will affect the intensity as well.

Overall, the gulf coast should be watching for at least a heavy rain event that will affect Florida regardless of what the track is, and should move into the NW gulf by early next week, affecting at least the south Texas and north Mexican coastlines. Again, though, the northeast gulf should be watching the situation closely as well, for the northeasterly track option cannot be discounted yet in such a tough forecasting setup.

We shall see what happens!

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12. dziban303
7:10 AM GMT on June 22, 2012
Which model is showing it going to Texas? Most of the latest runs indicate it'll move over Florida.
Member Since: May 6, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 43
11. OracleDeAtlantis
8:07 PM GMT on June 21, 2012
Nice job. I'm betting on Florida, and unusually heavy rains and flooding.
Member Since: August 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 501
10. HarryMc
7:50 PM GMT on June 21, 2012
Good eval again Levi. I'm starting to agree with you on the more westerly track and probably a little more spin-up than we're expecting right now.

Saturday is still my bogie for having enough fact in place to tell a lot more than just 'educated guess'.
Member Since: March 30, 2010 Posts: 4 Comments: 338
9. nigel20
7:36 PM GMT on June 21, 2012
Thanks Levi!
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 7870
8. LakeWorthFinn
7:01 PM GMT on June 21, 2012
I also find it very interesting that there's been 3 hurricanes intensifying or staying well alive in such cold waters as 20 Celsius. Have you any theories about how it's possible, or should they not be called canes at those latitudes? Epsilon (or was it Vince) I think hit Portugal and Spain with considerable damage.

Also what I find intriguing is, how in the past few years hurricanes have blown up in intensity practically overnight in a way never before. Is there any reason for that?
Member Since: October 6, 2005 Posts: 67 Comments: 7279
7. southernstorm
6:33 PM GMT on June 21, 2012
thx for ur time levi
Member Since: June 28, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 79
6. Hoff511
5:21 PM GMT on June 21, 2012
Thanks Levi!

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 265
5. lavinia
4:01 PM GMT on June 21, 2012
Thanks Levi. It's going to be interesting to see which way this ends up going. Hope it doesn't park itself in the Gulf for too long.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 217
4. seflagamma
3:08 PM GMT on June 21, 2012
Thank you Levi,

going to be an interesting development to watch in the next few days.
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 297 Comments: 40882
3. RitaEvac
3:03 PM GMT on June 21, 2012
It's gonna take it's time out there, then make it's move eventually.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
2. Hawkeyewx
3:01 PM GMT on June 21, 2012
Thanks for the video, Levi. Should be an interesting next week.
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 1923
1. AtHomeInTX
2:55 PM GMT on June 21, 2012
Thanks Levi. I hope it doesn't get too bad for someone. So far locally as you said hot and sunny under the ridge. The forecasts seem to be about the same all down the coast. Sigh. And thanks for waking up early. We do appreciate that. :)
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 679

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Levi Cowan has been tracking tropical systems since 2002, and is currently working on his bachelor's degree in physics at UAF.

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