Tropics: Monitoring Southwest Gulf of Mexico

June 24, 2011; 9:05 PM ET
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This enhanced satellite photo was taken Thursday morning, June 23, 2011. meteorologists continue to keep an eye on the Gulf of Mexico, particularly the southwestern part of the Gulf, for tropical activity.

The combination of an old frontal boundary, a weakening zone of high pressure, warm water, lowering wind shear, and the arrival of a tropical wave may lead to a tropical low or a disturbance next week around the Bay of Campeche.

According to Hurricane and Tropical Weather Expert Dan Kottlowski, "More of our tools are suggesting tropical development in the Bay of Campeche next week, but since the development period is several days away, there remains a high degree of uncertainty."

Chances are this system would stay too close to land to get explosive development.

Steering flow would tend to take the system, if it formed in the first place, into Mexico, rather than northward to the central Gulf Coast of the U.S. however, this is not to say that a second feature could not form farther north.

Fronts that bury themselves in the Gulf of Mexico this time of year can help breed tropical systems.

A front nearing the Gulf is a sign that the ironclad belt of high pressure that has been so prevalent in the region this spring has weakened, at least for the time being. This action alone has opened the door for needed rainfall in parts of the South.

A weak tropical system could bring beneficial rain to areas in northern Mexico and South Texas that need it. However, there is also the risk that slow-moving, torrential thunderstorms could also bring too much rain too fast. Flooding would be a concern, as well as mudslides, farther south and inland in Mexico.

The blob of thunderstorms seen on satellite photos of the western Gulf of Mexico is not the system we speak of. The tropical feature of concern will come later on and much farther south next week.

However, the weak circulation center in the western Gulf Thursday morning could track northeastward, bringing a pulse of drenching thunderstorms over the north-central and northeastern Gulf Coast area before the end of this week.


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