The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins today and lasts through the end of November; it is already kicking-off with a threat of a developing tropical cyclone in the Gulf of Mexico that could become Tropical Storm or Hurricane Alex with time. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) now believes there’s a 70% chance that a tropical cyclone will form in the next 48 hours; those odds increase to 80% over the next five days. Should the tropical cyclone develop into a tropical storm or hurricane, it would be given the first name of the Atlantic season: Alex.
According to the NHC’s latest Tropical Outlook, a large area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms located over the northwestern Caribbean Sea and Yucatan Peninsula is associated with a broad area of low pressure and the remnants of what was Hurricane Agatha. Environmental conditions appear conducive for gradual development, and this system is likely to become a tropical depression while it moves northeastward over the northwestern Caribbean Sea and southeastern Gulf of Mexico during the next couple of days.
The National Hurricane Center says that regardless of development, locally heavy rainfall is likely across portions of southeastern Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Belize during the next day or so, spreading across western Cuba, South Florida, and the Florida Keys on Friday and Saturday.
The NHC cautions interests in the Yucatan Peninsula, western Cuba, the Florida Keys, and the Florida Peninsula to all keep an eye on the progress of this system.
Global computer forecast models also believe a tropical cyclone will impact Florida in the coming days. Both the American GFS and European ECMWF suggest that a tropical cyclone will impact southwestern Florida as soon as this weekend. Beyond that, the global models differ in their handling of this storm. The American GFS model slides the system through the Bahamas and out into the open Atlantic while the European ECMWF model suggests the storm will hug the southeast coast, perhaps impacting the North Carolina coast with the outer bands of a system spinning about just off-shore. It is simply far too soon for there to be certainty for the extended range forecast for this system; while global forecast guidance can suggest overall trends, accuracy as it relates to storm track and intensity aren’t good beyond three days.
With Atlantic Hurricane Season starting today, it is important that everyone in a state that can be threatened by tropical storms and hurricanes be prepared for whatever this season will bring. Developing a hurricane action plan is key so people know what to do before, during, and after impacts from a tropical cyclone. In the case of Florida and the U.S. East Coast, such plans may need to be enacted as soon as later this week.