This is the official blog for Bryan Norcross, Hurricane Specialist at The Weather Channel.
By: Bryan Norcross , 1:35 AM GMT on October 03, 2013
Time to pay attention to what's going on in the Caribbean. The system near the Yucatan just needs a bit more organization to be named Tropical Storm Karen, and it's moving toward the Gulf of Mexico. It's not clear what the final outcome is going to be. There are conflicting signals.
On one hand, the system is clearly intensifying in a favorable upper-air environment and over extremely warm water. This favorable situation will likely continue for the next day or two allowing the system to intensify into at least a moderately healthy tropical storm heading generally north.
On the other hand, the water in the eastern Gulf has limited heat content. (It's plenty warm, but that warm water doesn't extend far below the surface so cold water gets stirred up easily.) There is dry air over much of the Gulf, which may limit how quickly it can intensify. And probably more importantly, the upper winds are somewhere between less favorable and very unfavorable for a tropical system in the northern Gulf. And, they are expected to stay that way.
The computer models show the system reaching the northern Gulf Coast between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle over the weekend. The models that make the system stronger, like the U.S. GFS model, take it toward the Panhandle. The models that keep it weaker, like the Euro, take it farther west.
The odds are currently leaning toward something in between with the system strengthening and becoming fairly scary late tomorrow into Friday and then weakening somewhere between a little and a lot before reaching the coast. Under the current scenario, the upper winds don't look favorable enough over the northern Gulf to support a strong tropical storm or hurricane. But, remember, it doesn't take much to generate storm surge in the shallow northern Gulf. So for now, heads up. Action might be required somewhere along the northern Gulf Coast as soon as Friday.
We should have a better idea tomorrow when the system comes together a bit more, and the accurate wind profile and location of the lowest pressure are put into the models. Stay tuned.
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