While the Atlantic Hurricane Season which starts today has already had an early start with Tropical Storms Arthur and Bertha, it looks like it’ll remain a busy, early season with the likely formation of the next storm: Cristobal. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami now believes there’s a 90% chance that a tropical cyclone will form around the Gulf of Mexico within the next 48 hours or sooner.
According to the NHC, satellite imagery and radar observations from Mexico show that the area of disturbed weather centered near the west coast of the Yucatan peninsula is gradually becoming better organized. This area of clouds, showers, and storms is forecast to move west-northwestward over the Bay of Campeche later this afternoon where environmental conditions are expected to be conducive to support development. The NHC believes that a tropical depression will form here tonight or early tomorrow.
Beyond Tuesday, the system is forecast to drift westward or west-southwestward over the southern Bay of Campeche through the middle of the week. From there, computer forecast guidance hasn’t been consistent with where the storm could go next. While the track and intensity isn’t yet known, guidance does suggest that this system will develop into a tropical storm or hurricane making landfall somewhere around the U.S. Gulf Coast in about 5-8 days.
The National Hurricane Center says that interests along the coast of the Bay of Campeche should monitor the progress of this disturbance as tropical storm watches or warnings could be required for a portion of this area later today or tonight.
Even before the system becomes a named tropical cyclone, dangerous heavy rains are likely over portions of southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, and western Honduras over the next few days.
Experts with the Tropical Meteorology Project at CSU believe the upcoming hurricane season will be a particularly busy one with increased chances of a landfalling tropical system compared to typical seasons. NOAA also unveiled their seasonal outlook in May, showing an active season with an above normal volume of storms expected in the Atlantic basin.
With a busy season expected, the National Hurricane Center recommends that people develop a written action plan, consider helping neighbors in their planning process, make sure their homes are strengthened prior to being threatened by a tropical system, make sure insurance is in-order, stock up on essential supplies, develop an evacuation plan, and ultimately identify and determine any risks you may face from a storm.
The Atlantic Hurricane season runs from today through November 30.