Tropical system may form in the Gulf Wednesday

Tropical system may form in the Gulf Wednesday
We continue to closely monitor the system know as Invest 92-L for the possibility of tropical development over the Gulf of Mexico

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - We continue to closely monitor the system know as Invest 92-L for the possibility of tropical development over the Gulf of Mexico. The forecast remains very difficult and there is a high amount of uncertainty with the forecast and the computer models are likely to continue changing with each new set of data. This is also a good time to add that there is a lot of misinformation out there from various social media sources, many of which have little or no metrological experience. If the site you look at is not a governmental site such as the National Hurricane Center or National Weather Service, or a local television station meteorologist then I would encourage you to ignore that source.

Invest 92-L is now located over Apalachee Bay in the extreme northeastern Gulf of Mexico, and it is expected to move westward this week. Currently there is no sign of it transitioning to a tropical system, but the environment is favorable for that and it could become a depression or named storm Wednesday. If it becomes a tropical storm the next name on this list is Barry. It is worth noting that impacts will be felt across much of the Gulf coast regardless of if or how much this system develops. Specifically, rainfall will be a major concern; if it develops wind and surge could be an issue as well. But I do want to make it perfectly clear that areas along the coast from Texas to Florida could see significantly rainfall.

The forecast track remains clustered on a westward motion through Thursday, this would keep it offshore over very warm waters. Beyond Thursday it is a matter of timing and strength among the various computer models showing a northward turn. Some show this turn occurring well east of Southwest Louisiana, while others show this much closer to our area, and some still well to our west. At this point the more westward tracks seem less likely unless something changes with the overall weather pattern. But unless this develops into a hurricane it is important to NOT focus on the center of circulation. With weaker system the weather can be displaced well away from the center of circulation. That displacement is usually on the eastern side, but not always with weaker systems. Meaning our weather is likely to be better if this moves to our east, but we would see far worse weather if this is closer to our area or even to or west.

As messy as the forecast is for the track, it is even worse when it comes to the strength, and this is something the models always struggle with. Odds are increasing that this at least becomes a moderate to strong tropical storm before landfall, but it is growing increasingly possible that it could reach hurricane status before landfall. This will be largely dependent on the track; too close to land and it may be weaker, farther offshore and it could be stronger. But also the amount of time over water will come into play, meaning a northward turn sooner would limit the time to strengthen while a later northward turn would allow more time for strengthening. Best case scenario is for this to remain close to shore and turn north with landfall well east of our area; worst case is it stays farther offshore and comes ashore near Southwest Louisiana.

Timing for this remains Friday through Sunday depending once again on the track it takes and the strength to some degree. Regardless of what happens to earliest we would feel impacts would be late Friday, but more likely over the weekend. If you have outdoor plans, please keep a close eye on the forecast and be prepared to change those plans in a short amount of time. And that goes for Southwest Louisiana plans or anywhere along the coast from Florida to Texas now through this weekend.

As mentioned above, regardless of development some areas along the Gulf coast could see significant rainfall with possibly over 10 inches of rain falling. This could cause some flooding at least in low-lying areas, if you live in an area like that, I would plan for impacts now. This includes getting sandbags, moving important documents to a safe location, and possibly making plans to get out of the flood prone area if the rain occurs here. Other impacts such as wind and surge will be more dependent upon the strength of the storm and where it makes landfall. Obviously if it reaches hurricane status wind and surge would be greatest on the eastern side of the storm, so landfall location is more important to determine the highest risk. But once again, it never hurts to be prepared. I would recommend looking around your home now and picking up any loose items and if possible trim tree limbs away from your home if you can do so safely. I would also recommend keeping your vehicles filled with gas and make sure you have some food and other necessities on hand, just in case.

Once again there is considerable uncertainty with the forecast track, and even more with the strength of the system. I am optimistic that the forecast will become more certain Wednesday and for by Thursday, but that will not leave a lot of time to watch this before it makes landfall.

Here's the bottom-line:

1. This forecast is very uncertain and subject to change over the next few days

2. Areas from Texas to Florida need to monitor this closely

3. The forecast should become more certain by Wednesday or Thursday

4. This could become a hurricane before landfall, although that risk is still low for now

5. Count on us here at KPLC to keep you informed, and follow us for updates

6. And be mindful of misinformation on social media!

You can download the KPLC First Alert Weather app here: www.kplctv.com/apps

Chief Meteorologist Wade Hampton

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