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Tropical Depression Twenty-Eight forms in the Caribbean; Likely to become Zeta and impact the Gulf Coast

Posted at 4:25 PM, Oct 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-25 15:02:53-04

Tropical Depression Twenty-Eight has formed in the NW Caribbean on Saturday afternoon.

Here is the latest track and intensity forecast

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It is forecasted to become Zeta by Sunday and briefly become a hurricane while in the southern Gulf of Mexico.

It will then approach the Northern Gulf Coast by late Wednesday afternoon and into Wednesday night as a tropical storm.

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If this track verifies, the worst of the impacts would stay well east of the Acadiana region, but some models are split and want to track it a bit farther west.

Bottom line, we will have to monitor the progression of this system very closely in the coming days.

Here is the latest from the NHC:

The tropical depression hasn't been moving much, but recently it has started at least drifting toward the north-northwest. A shortwave trough moving across the southeastern United States should keep the cyclone in a rather weak steering pattern during the next day or so, with only a northwest drift anticipated. Mid-level ridging should build over the northern Gulf of Mexico on Monday, forcing the depression to move faster to the west-northwest toward the Yucatan Peninsula or Channel. The ridge shouldn't last too long, however, with a substantial upper-level low forecast to eject out of the southwestern United States in a few days, causing the tropical cyclone to sharply turn to the north and northeast on Wednesday. The guidance isn't in very good agreement, and these types of trough ejection scenarios can have significant timing differences. At this time, the NHC track forecast leans a little more on the global models than the regional hurricane models, and is just west of the model consensus.

While the large-scale shear is fairly light at the moment, the low- and mid-level circulations of the depression are not well-aligned. Thus, it might take some time for the system to strengthen despite low shear and very warm waters. In a day or two, the depression will likely have a structure that supports a faster rate of strengthening, and the intensification rate is increased while the cyclone is near the Yucatan. Although the forecast shows the system reaching hurricane strength in the southern Gulf of Mexico, this is rather uncertain given the potential land interaction and only a narrow area of favorable upper-level winds. A combination of cooler shelf waters and increasing shear will likely weaken the cyclone below hurricane strength as it approaches the northern Gulf Coast. However, strong tropical storms can still produce significant storm surge, rainfall, and wind impacts, and residents in this region will yet again need to monitor another tropical cyclone moving northward across the Gulf.