Tropical Depression 19 formed Friday afternoon 80 miles east of Miami, and is forecast to make landfall as at least a strong tropical storm, with 70 mph winds, at the Louisiana-Mississippi border near Slidell early Tuesday afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center.
But forecasters warned that there could be significant changes in their estimates of both the storm’s landfall location and its intensity at landfall during the next few days as it moves into and across the Gulf of Mexico.
At 10 p.m., the depression had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, and was moving west-northwest at 8 mph.
Depending on when it reaches tropical storm strength, this new system would be named Sally or Teddy. The uncertainty is because another strong tropical system in the eastern Atlantic Ocean could reach tropical storm strength first, and grab the Sally name.
And, yes, it would be the earliest on record to garner a name beginning with either S or T this early in a hurricane season.
Forecasters declared the system a depression based on satellite data showing it had quickly organized on Friday afternoon, and issued a tropical storm watch for the southeast Florida coast.
Federal climate scientists have upped their forecast for the 2020 hurricane season to “extremely active,” and predict there will be as many as…
After the storm reaches the eastern Gulf of Mexico, likely Saturday afternoon, “steady intensification is expected through the weekend due to expected light wind shear and very warm water” in the Gulf said Senior Hurricane Specialist Eric Blake in a 4 p.m. discussion message.
Blake warned that this first forecast for the storm was written conservatively, with low estimates of intensification. “But do not be surprised if that is revised upward on later forecasts once other models better initialize the depression,” he wrote.
Hurricane Laura, which hit Lake Charles two weeks ago, intensified much more rapidly than forecasters predicted, and it made landfall as a Category 4 storm.
Forecasters expect a strong ridge of high pressure to steer the storm to the west-northwest, and then northwest, toward the present expected landfall near Slidell.
But Blake said that a trough of low pressure that’s expected to nudge the storm northwest might not be strong enough, which could leave the storm moving more slowly and more to the west early next week.
“As a result, the risk of seeing direct impacts from this system extend well outside the cone of uncertainty, even more so than usual in this case,” he said.
Even before that depression or tropical storm arrives, southeastern Louisiana is already receiving rainfall from a wide area of thunderstorms that blanketed the northern Gulf of Mexico from southeastern Louisiana to the Florida panhandle on Friday. Those storms are associated with a surface trough of low pressure that also has a chance of becoming a depression over the next few days.
“Some slow development of this system is possible while it moves westward and then southwestward over the northern and western Gulf of Mexico through the middle of next week,” said Hurricane Specialist Robbie Berg in a 2 p.m. Friday outlook message. He gave the system a 20% chance of forming a depression through Sunday, and a 30% chance through five days.
“Through the weekend, this system will bring waves of showers and thunderstorms over southeastern Louisiana,” said Tim Destri, a meteorologist with the Slidell office of the National Weather Service.
Here’s the latest outlook from @NHC_Atlantic . Our focus remains on the tropical disturbance over the western Bahamas as the system is forecast to enter the east Gulf as soon as early Saturday. This system may bring heavy rain across our area by mid week. #lawx #mswx pic.twitter.com/QGYtaU5Ehq
— NWS New Orleans (@NWSNewOrleans) September 11, 2020
Destri warned that Louisiana residents should keep an eye out for updates on Tropical Depression 19 because officials have not ruled out the chance that it could become a hurricane before making landfall later next week.
“If it develops quickly, in the next 24 to 48 hours, we could be talking about a well-developed system,” he said, adding that it’s way too soon to rule out it becoming a hurricane, even a strong one.
Sea-surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico along the possible track of the system remain elevated, and forecasters announced Thursday that eastern Pacific Ocean water temperatures have returned to a cooler “La Nina” pattern that generally also means reduced wind shear in the tropical Atlantic, which enhances tropical storm formation.
In addition to Tropical Depression 19 and the other nearby system, the hurricane center also is tracking two named tropical storms, the potential depression in the east Atlantic and yet another area of disturbed weather that has just emerged off the African coast.
Disturbance 2 is currently in the north-central Gulf of Mexico. It has a 20% chance of formation over the next two days.
It is expected to move westward and then southwestward. Rain and thunderstorms have increased around the disturbance.
Tropical Storm Paulette
Forecasters say Paulette will approach Bermuda as a hurricane by late Sunday or early Monday.
It could impact the southeastern United States with life-threatening surf and rip current conditions this weekend.
Tropical Storm Rene
Tropical Storm Rene is moving west-northwest near 14 mph in the Atlantic Ocean. It is expected to turn toward the northwest in the coming days.
It could strengthen in the next couple days, but it is expected to weaken by Sunday night.
Disturbance 3 is located off the western coast of Africa. A tropical depression is likely to form in the next few days.
It is moving westward at 15 to 20 mph.
Disturbance 4 is currently off the western coast of Africa. There is a 10% chance of cyclone formation in the next two days, but a 40% chance through five days.
Forecasters say it could become a tropical depression over the far eastern Atlantic early next week.
See full forecast here.