The southern Gulf of Mexico and western Caribbean have already birthed several tropical systems this season, and we may have have another one by Friday. Invest 95L, an area of low pressure over the Yucatan Peninsula, has a “high chance” (per the National Hurricane Center) of becoming a depression or tropical storm by Friday when it moves out over the warm waters of the Bay of Campeche. Unlike its predecessors, though, this potential storm could be pulled further north or northeast and potentially impact parts of the United States. While it is certainly too early to talk specifics, there is a reasonable amount of forecast confidence in the idea that, at the very least, tropical moisture would get pulled toward Florida ahead of an approaching front late this weekend or early next week.
The area of interest moved inland over the Yucatan Peninsula near Chetumal, Mexico overnight. Despite being over land, it was exhibiting modest rotation and thunderstorm activity near its center. Nearby wind shear was relatively low and water temperatures on both sides of the peninsula were plenty warm to continue feeding it moisture and instability. However, Invest 95L will likely not be able to organize any further while it moves over land today. Thursday is when the system is projected to be back over the warm waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico, at which the National Hurricane Center says it has a high chance of developing. Hurricane Hunters have been tasked with a flight later today, but it could be postponed until Invest 95L moves back out over water tonight or tomorrow.
FORECAST FOR INVEST 95L
As Invest 95L moves into the Bay of Campeche Thursday, some reliable forecast data suggests it could strengthen into a tropical storm. Unlike nearly every other storm over the Gulf this season, though, this one might take a path further north or linger longer over water longer. If this occurs, conditions would be favorable for it to strengthen through Saturday. However, confidence is very low on what happens thereafter. An approaching front is seen by all forecast models moving across the central U.S. this weekend, and it is very likely the front will interact with Invest 95L in some way. In theory, two possible solutions could come out of a situation like this:
FORECAST SCENARIO #1
The approaching front will be strong enough to pull the system north or northeast, potentially impacting the Southeast U.S. or Florida. If this occurs, the faster winds aloft behind the front would most-likely weaken the tropical storm considerably or absorb it entirely. A scenario such as this would spread heavy rain across Florida along the front, most likely on Sunday or Monday. The speed of the front and track of the [remnant] low pressure center would dictate where the heaviest rain would fall.
The front is weaker and leaves the developing tropical cyclone behind over the warm waters of the Gulf. While this is less likely to happen, it would be potentially pose a greater hazard to someone in the U.S. If the potential tropical storm is left for several days over the Gulf of Mexico, especially in the wake of a front when high pressure aloft usually builds overhead, rapid strengthening could occur on its eventual voyage toward land. Speculation of any possible outcome from this scenario would be way too premature, but this is a possibility certainly worth paying attention to upon future forecast model runs. Even if Scenario #2 plays out and the storm stays over water, plenty of tropical moisture would still likely move across the state at some point early next week when the aforementioned front moves through.
Bottom line – as always – is to stay tuned. Floridians and Gulf Coast residents who have plans to travel or spend time outdoors this weekend should most-certainly stay informed of the latest developments on Invest 95L.