Tropical Depression 2 has formed in the western Gulf of Mexico. The depression will strengthen into Tropical Storm Bonnie on Thursday before moving inland just south of Brownsville, Texas.
Despite tracking well away from the oil spill area, the system still threatens to disrupt cleanup and containment efforts in the northern Gulf and could lead to flooding problems along and inland of the Texas Coast.
Latest on Tropical Depression Two
Tropical Depression Two formed at 10 p.m. CDT on Wednesday in the western Gulf of Mexico.
As of 12:30 a.m. Thursday, the depression was centered about 210 miles east-southeast of Brownsville, Texas. Maximum-sustained winds were estimated at 35 mph.
The system should continue to intensify as it heads northwestward. Enough strengthening should take place that the depression becomes a tropical storm by midday Thursday. The next tropical storm in the Atlantic Basin would acquire the name "Bonnie."
The water in the western Gulf of Mexico is warm enough to support strengthening. Strong winds high in the atmosphere, also known as wind shear, will be absent.
Current forecast models indicate that if a tropical storm does develop, the system will probably press inland too quickly to intensify into a hurricane. In between Brownsville, Texas, and Rio San Fernando, Mexico, is where the system will make landfall early Thursday afternoon.
The depression threatens to unleash drenching thunderstorms around and north of its center. Additional rainfall on already soaked South Texas and northeastern Mexico could lead to new flooding problems.
South Texas, Northern Mexico Flooding Concern
Hurricane Alex unleashed torrential rain on South Texas and northeastern Mexico just one week ago. McAllen, Texas, was inundated by 7.58 inches of rain last Tuesday into last Thursday. Most of that rain fell in one day.
The more than two feet of rain that Alex dropped on northern parts of Mexico last week led to massive flash flooding.
Flooding problems in South Texas were relatively few and minor with Alex.
According to AccuWeather.com Tropical Weather Expert Dan Kottlowski, reservoirs along the Rio Grande River and its tributaries were able to absorb the runoff from Alex. However, most of these reservoirs are now filled to capacity.
Homes are now becoming inundated along the Rio Grande River in South Texas as officials have been forced to release water from the swollen Lake Amistad.
Even without added rainfall from the new tropical depression, the Rio Grande will rise farther downstream later this week. Drenching thunderstorms on Thursday could worsen the flooding situation for homes and businesses along the banks of the river.
Drenching thunderstorms associated with this depression will not be confined to South Texas and northeastern Mexico. A surge of moisture well ahead of the system threatens to drop flooding downpours over eastern Texas and western Louisiana on Wednesday night. This includes Houston and Lake Charles.
Depression's Impacts on Oil Spill Area
The center of the tropical system being monitored for development will pass well to the south and west of the oil spill area, but not without threatening to disrupt cleanup and containment efforts.
The combination of the tropical system and an area of high pressure has kicked up rough seas in the vicinity of the oil spill. Waves will average 3 to 5 feet on Thursday.
Waves of this magnitude could reduce the effectiveness of the boom systems. Smaller craft assisting with the cleanup and containment efforts may be forced to remain docked.
Waves should subside substantially on Friday as the tropical depression moves inland. Waves are forecast to average a foot or less this weekend.
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Kansas City, MO (1988)
A total of 4 inches of rain from thunderstorms creates major flooding in the city.
Jacksonville, FL (1989)
Torrential rain again within 4 days. Downtown Jacksonville had 16 inches of rain in less than a week. The airport record over 8".
Nome, AK (1992)
9 degrees, a record low for September.