Posted: Aug 3, 2012 2:47 PM by Rob Perillo
Updated: Aug 3, 2012 3:23 PM
While all the tropical attention over the last couple of days has been on Tropical Storm Ernesto and the system's future track, another disturbance over Florida and the Bahamas is garnering more attention from the National Hurricane Center.
While Disturbance "91L" off the southeast coast of Florida remains poorly organized and is not expected to develop significantly over the next few days, it will be watched closely for possible influence on Ernesto and Acadiana's weather next week.
The disturbance by Florida is expected to drift west-northwestward across Florida this weekend and the northern Gulf Coast early next week. Interestingly enough initial tropical models on this system do call for modest strengthening. The National Hurricane Center has assigned a 20% chance of tropical cyclone development of this feature through the next 48 hours.
This feature along with a weakness in the ridge of high pressure over Louisiana could certainly enhance local rain chances for Acadiana early-mid next week. Development, if any, would likely not occur until the system gets in the Northeastern Gulf early next week.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Ernesto with 50mph winds continues to move smartly to the west. While convection remains disorganized on satellite imagery Friday afternoon, the circulation of this system appears to be getting larger.
Over the last 24 hours Ernesto has been moving too quickly for any significant development and has been bumping into drier, more stable air ahead of it. There may even be some Saharan Dust in the drier air which could certainly inhibit development in the near term.
Most tropical models do show some gradual intensification of this system as it approaches the Yucatan Tuesday/Wednesday of next week with model tracks splitting in two camps thereafter.
One camp of models indicate that the disturbance near Florida could induce a weakness across the Gulf of Mexico ushering Ernesto northward into the Central Gulf while the other camp of models indicating weak high pressure following the disturbance (and possibly rebuilding across the Gulf States) would send Ernesto westward toward the Bay of Campeche and Mexico.
At this point it is fair to say that the entire Gulf of Mexico could be vulnerable to Ernesto mid-late next week. It should also be noted the heat content and hurricane potential is currently highest in the Gulf of Mexico and given Ernesto approaches the Gulf as a substantial tropical storm or hurricane (which is currently forecast by the National Hurricane Center), a rapid intensification cycle could be possible once Ernesto gets into the Gulf.
Rapid intensification cycles can manifest in storms jumping up to two categories within a 24 hour time-frame so it goes with saying that all residents across the Gulf Coast should stay apprised of the state of the tropics through this weekend.
Finally, there is another disturbance that has emerged off of the African Coast over the last couple of days, that is also showing promise of development but should remain an Atlantic system at least over the next 8-12 days.
Water Vapor Imagery:
Current Tropical Tracks: