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Gulf of Mexico residents monitoring two different tropical systems

Posted at 5:07 AM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-22 15:47:39-04

Tropical Depression 13 developed Wednesday night, and over the next 24 hours it is looking likely that we will see the official formation of Laura as it heads out of the Atlantic Ocean and toward the Caribbean.

As is typically the case with newly developed, or developing storms, the early forecasts often don't have a whole lot of certainty and it seems that TD 13 will be no exception with reliable models producing wildly different results.

It will be important to keep in mind while reading the discussion that forecast confidence in the long term is still fairly low, and that the cone will likely change over the coming days.

That being said, early indications are that TD 13 (eventually T.S. Laura) will move through the northern Caribbean and into the eastern Gulf of Mexico by the end of the weekend and early next week.

The movement of this storm through the islands will be very important in the intensity of the storm, if it interacts with more of the islands you can expect a weaker storm, however, if it finds a way to thread the needle we could be looking at a more robust storm getting into the Gulf.

Neither of the major global models seem particularly reliable currently as they are still trying to wrap their head around the storm so to speak, but now that we have an official low we should start to see some agreement.

Until we start to get a little more reliable data I'll be hesitant to show the long range models as they don't offer a whole lot of value to the forecast currently.

Frustratingly we find ourselves in the "wait and see" period of TD 13, which is not uncommon with tropical systems but frustrating none the less.

TD 13 is not the only storm that residents along the Gulf of Mexico should be concerned about, there's also Invest 97L a disturbances in the southern Caribbean that is headed toward central America.

Invest 97 is a little trickier, because there's a lot of different options on the table, ranging everywhere from a tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico to an open wave across Mexico, and again we're in the frustrating "wait and see" phase.

Currently the disturbance is surrounded by dry air making further organization difficult, however, as it gets closer to Honduras it will be in a place more favorable for development.

The next 48 hours will go a long way in determining the outcome of Invest 97 and on Friday may be the best window for further development so that will be the time period to watch and will go a long way in the final outcome of this particular storm.

There's two trains of thought with this system.

The first is that it struggles to develop into a tropical system and drifts across the Yucutan and eventually on to Mexico, the other is that it picks up steam and organizes which would then send it out into the Gulf of Mexico.

Invest 97L is currently given an 80% chance in developing further by the National Hurricane Center and models, while still all over the place, seem to lean toward a move into the Gulf of Mexico.

Once in the Gulf, everything is on the table with the chances of a tropical storm moving into the central Gulf Coast fairly high, and this time of year a hurricane can't be ruled out.

There's a lot of "ifs" with this forecast, "if this happens, if that happens", and that can understandably be incredibly frustrating when it comes to having the information needed to make the kinds of decisions you have to make with tropical systems.

Unfortunately though, that's the nature of forecasting it isn't always cut and dry and uncertainty will always be there to a degree.

This is why every year we stress the need to have a hurricane plan in place, so that when the "ifs" become "whens" then you have the ability to act rationally and quickly.

Since there is so much uncertainty and since the Gulf of Mexico is still in play to see impacts from these systems we may see a narrow window to get ready, so the time to review that hurricane plan is now.

We will bring you all the forecast updates as they become available and the more certain we are the more we will communicate the issues, in the mean time the best thing to be is prepared, not panicked.

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