Tropical Storm in the Gulf of Mexico Likely by Monday
[Updated 0400 CDT] The National Hurricane Center has officially upgraded Tropical Depression 5 to Tropical Storm Elsa. Maximum sustained winds are 40 mph. The track forecast and model guidance have not changed since earlier this morning.
[Original Story] Tropical Depression Five has formed in the waters of the tropical Atlantic Basin. The storm system which has been monitored by the National Hurricane Center over the past few days was officially designated as a tropical cyclone yesterday.
That's a good news/bad news scenario for those who are wondering what the path of the storm might be. The bad news is that it has become a tropical cyclone and will likely grow stronger over time. The good news, I say that with my tongue firmly in my cheeks, is that as a stronger system, forecast models will be able to offer better guidance on the path of the system. Okay, that's really not good at all.
What is the Latest on the System this Morning?
As of 0100 CDT, the Hurricane Center had Tropical Depression Five centered about 950 miles east southeast of the Windward Islands. The forecast track of the system brings it rapidly to the west. It's moving at about 24 mph which is really fast for a tropical system. At that rate, the tropical depression should affect the islands of Barbados, Martinique, and St. Lucia. Tropical Storm warnings have been posted for those islands.
Where is the Tropical System Forecast to Go?
That's the million or I guess I should say the billion-dollar question. Since tropical systems depending on where they make landfall can do billions of dollars in damage it would be good to know where this one is headed. While we can't be certain of the forecast track the Hurricane Center has a pretty good idea based on the graphic you can see above.
What do the Tropical Forecast or Spaghetti Models Predict?
For the most part, model guidance is in great agreement on the path of the system over the next three days. They all line up very close together in their projection of the anticipated path. That path carries the system into the Caribbean Sea well south of Puerto Rico and Hispanola. The system could slide between Jamaica and Cuba as it continues its progress across the Caribbean. By Monday the system will likely be in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.
What Are the Impacts for Louisiana?
As of now, at least based on model guidance this storm, which would earn the name Elsa if it reached tropical storm status, doesn't appear to be a player in Louisiana's weather. All of the model guidance curves the projected path toward the north when the system is located south of Cuba. Where that turn happens, if it happens, will determine which part of the Gulf Coast will be dealing with the impacts of soon-to-be Elsa. But as of now, Louisiana looks to be well to the west of the anticipated landfall.
Is There Any Other Issue We Should Be Monitoring?
As of early this morning, Tropical Depression 5 was the only entity in the Atlantic Basin that was a concern to the Hurricane Center. Naturally, other systems could form at any time but based on forecast models and satellite observations, things look to be very quiet other than TD 5.
I do think Louisiana and the northern Gulf of Mexico will dodge the bullet on this particular system. But the impacts of the rain and storms associated with it could severely hamper search, rescue, and recovery efforts in Surfside Florida at the site of that collapsed condominium. Let us hope that the impact, especially in that part of the world will be minimal as well.