As Major Hurricane Fiona passes by WELL to our east in the Atlantic, we turn our attention to the next system. There is a ‘growing concern’ that a tropical wave in the southern Windward Islands will become a pretty big tropical system and track into the Caribbean. If the long-term guidance is correct, this system will likely make a run at the Gulf of Mexico as we head into next week. However, let’s stick with the facts, what we know, don’t know, and a few possible scenarios.
First and foremost, it is currently a TROPICAL WAVE. It has not been designated as a Tropical Depression or Tropical Storm but is becoming more organized. An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft will be investigating the disturbance this evening. The disturbance is forecast to move toward the central Barriean sea later this week and will very likely be the next named storm, which is Hermine.
The modeling for this system has been VERY consistent and shows a track through the Central Caribean Sea. However, the spaghetti plots begin to spread as it approaches the Gulf of Mexico. Will “Hermine” move across the Yucatan Peninsula or will it move further to the right and move across Western Cuba? Could it completely miss both land interactions and move straight into the Gulf of Mexico? That’s also on the table.
The more concerning factor is the very warm water temperatures across the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico in the mid-80s to around 90 degrees with little in the way of wind sheer. It has a long way to go before any land interactions. Therefore, there is the potential for this system to strengthen into a Category 3+ Major Hurricane.
SPECULATION MOVING FORWARD
What happens AFTER emerging into the Gulf of Mexico? There are a few scenarios. The first scenario would be a high-pressure building across the Plains and Midwest, and a trough would help to steer this system into Florida by NEXT WEDNESDAY (September 28) and moving into the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. This would bring torrential rain, flooding, and wind across the Florida Peninsula, with flooding and severe weather potential threat over time moving into the Southeast. The ensembles currently favor this idea.
The second scenario is much slower and more concerning for the Gulf Coast. The trough swings by and misses the system (because it’s too far south) and it slowly creeps northward, meaning it’s over very warm waters for a much longer duration. There would be the potential for this system to grow larger and make landfall by NEXT WEEKEND somewhere along the Gulf.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you have family along the Gulf Coast, keep monitoring the forecast and make sure they review their hurricane preparation plans. It never hurts to review these plans, just in case you do have to evacuate. It’s also important to note that this storm has NOT been named yet, but the likelihood of this becoming Hermine is quite high and there is growing concern that this system will intensify as it moves into the Caribbean Sea. After that, that’s where the “speculation” begins and we will have a better idea of what may happen as we head into the weekend and early next week. Stay tuned and always remain weather aware!