Good early morning everyone, for the past couple of days, even as Hurricane Earl has been the main focus of forecasters and meteorologists across the Atlantic Basin, the models have been shifting attention to the potential for a new tropical system to form this early to mid next week, potentially much closer to home.
First and foremost, regardless of development, heavy rainfall and flooding is becoming increasingly likely along the Gulf Coast:
As you can see in the graphic above, the WPC is forecasting significant rainfall, perhaps as high as 6-12 inches from New Orleans to Tampa Bay. This area does not particularly need rain ( although locations further north, in Georgia and Alabama, do need it), thus flooding will likely occur particularly due to the fact that this will be a long duration heavy rainfall event likely starting late this weekend and persisting well into next week. Any tropical development would likely heighten this rainfall ( the EURO is showing perhaps double the amount of rainfall in some spots), but regardless of development, significant rainfall and flooding is becoming increasingly likely as we roll into the next several days, particularly within the red and yellow shaded areas, but also within the purple shaded areas.
Along with the heavy rainfall, some guidance does develop a tropical depression or storm in the NE GOM from this system:
The National Hurricane Center has already put out an area of potential development within the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, giving the system a 20% chance of developing into the 6th tropical cyclone of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season. These odds may increase as things come more into light and as the pieces actually start coming together. A cold front will drop down into the northeastern Gulf of Mexico late this weekend and will stall over the very warm waters in places across the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, light wind shear and a general lack of dry air will also aid in helping to develop a potential tropical depression or storm in this area. I will note however that even if a tropical storm does develop, it will likely not have time to develop into anything too powerful, but with waters this warm it would be wise to also not let your guard down. The next name on the list for the 2016 hurricane season is Fiona. Regardless of development, as noted above, the primary risk associated with this area is significant rainfall and flooding potential, tropical storm force winds and a minor storm surge would likely be secondary risks. We will continue to watch this system as it begins to take shape over the NE Gulf of Mexico, stay with Gulf Coast Weather Center for all of the latest updates and begin making flood precaution plans if you live in a low lying area near the coast!