A tropical disturbance heading for Florida and possibly the Gulf of Mexico is gradually becoming better organized, hurricane forecasters said Thursday morning. It has an 80% chance of developing into at least a tropical depression.
If the system strengthens to a tropical storm, it will be named Humberto.
The National Weather Service in New Orleans said the system, now called Invest 95L, could bring higher tides and heavy rainfall to the northeastern Gulf Coast early next week. It’s too early to tell if or how it could impact New Orleans and southeast Louisiana. The agency advised residents to stay weather aware this weekend.
Forecasters also were tracking another tropical system in the Atlantic Thursday morning. This is the historical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30.
Weather disturbance over the Bahamas
Conditions are becoming more favorable for a tropical depression or a tropical storm to form within the next day or two, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday morning. The storm categories, in increasing strength, are tropical depression, tropical storm and hurricane.
The Hurricane Hunters, who fly an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft, are scheduled to investigate the system Thursday afternoon.
As of 7 a.m. Thursday, the weather disturbance was over the central and southeastern Bahamas and was moving northwest at 5 to 10 mph. Satellite images indicate the disturbance is getting better organized, forecasters said.
The system is expected to move through the northwestern Bahamas and toward the Florida peninsula. It could enter the eastern Gulf of Mexico, forecasters said.
The long-term models are in “some strong disagreement” about where the storm could go, the National Weather Service in New Orleans said. One scenario has it taking a similar path of Dorian off the east coast of Florida. Others have it trending more westward. It’s just too early to tell right now, forecasters said.
The National Hurricane Center has a large section of the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean and Florida shaded in red on its 5-day outlook map. The shaded area represents where a tropical depression could form and is not a storm track.
Forecasters usually release a track when the system strengthens to a tropical depression. For this system, forecasters said if the development trend continues, they will issue a track later Thursday.
The disturbance is expected to bring heavy rainfall and gusty winds to part of the Bahamas, including parts devastated by Hurricane Dorian.
There’s a 70% chance (high) of a tropical depression developing within 48 hours and an 80% chance (high) of development within five days.
In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards was attending a preparedness briefing Thursday morning on the weather disturbance.
Gov. Edwards is at GOHSEP for a preparedness briefing on #Invest95L Stay weather aware as we head into the weekend in case this system does move into the Gulf of Mexico. @LouisianaGov #lawx pic.twitter.com/5GD4dB6e75
— Louisiana GOHSEP (@GOHSEP) September 12, 2019
The Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said it has activated its crisis action team and is “closely monitoring” the system.
“It is still too early to determine if this system will develop and the exact areas of impact,” GOHSEP Director Jim Waskom said in a statement Wednesday.
Waskom said now is the time for residents to evaluate their storm plans and check their emergency supplies.
Tropical wave in the Atlantic
Forecasters on Thursday morning also were tracking a tropical wave that was several hundred miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands. It has a 40% chance (medium) of developing into at least a tropical depression within five days.
Conditions appear conducive for development, forecasters said, and a tropical depression could form early next week while the system moves west over the Atlantic.
If the system strengthens to a tropical storm, it could be named Humberto or Imelda, depending on what happens with Invest 95L.
The National Hurricane Center is tracking several other tropical waves, but they are not expected to develop into storms within five days.
Carlie Kollath Wells is a morning reporter at NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate.