Tropical rainstorm to bring downpours, drought relief to Gulf Coast
AccuWeather meteorologists warn that residents along the Gulf Coast should be on alert for flooding downpours as a tropical rainstorm could gain strength and make landfall this week.
A tropical rainstorm tracking across the southern Caribbean Sea is on the cusp of becoming a named tropical storm, but AccuWeather meteorologists are also monitoring another tropical rainstorm in the northern Gulf of Mexico that could strengthen.
While organization and development into a tropical depression or named storm is a possibility at any time through Thursday, downpours are expected to overspread much of the western and central Gulf Coast. This rain can cause localized flash flooding but bring much-needed drought relief.
AccuWeather meteorologists have declared this disturbance as a tropical rainstorm with it projected to track westward toward Texas through the end of the week. Although it is heading west, moisture associated with the system could go on to fuel downpours in Louisiana and Arkansas late this week.
The tropical rainstorm was becoming better organized, based on satellite images from Tuesday afternoon. But, forecasters caution that even an unnamed system can bring meaningful impacts on land in the form of flooding rain.
As tropical moisture surges into the coast it will interact with a stalled front, bringing rounds of torrential downpours this week. While the heaviest rain is expected on the Texas coast as the rainstorm moves over land Thursday, enhanced rainfall will be possible as far east as Georgia and the Florida Panhandle.
"There will be plenty of moisture available and minimal amounts of wind shear. When this is combined with the stalled front near the Gulf Coast, the recipe is there for pockets of very heavy rainfall," AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz explained.
Waters in the Gulf of Mexico are already warm enough to promote further tropical development and strengthening. While development from a tropical rainstorm into a tropical depression or named storm is far from a guarantee, it cannot be ruled out either.
Tropical impacts in the Texas region around the Gulf include flooding downpours, gusts of wind at the coast and a rough surf.
Warm waters, low wind shear and moist air are all ingredients that support tropical development. However, there are a number of factors also working against it in this case.
"The window for development to occur is slim as the disturbance moves toward land. As the system moves toward the western Gulf of Mexico, some dry air and stronger wind shear may be present, which could slow development," Benz said.
In this image, captured at midday on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, clouds, showers and thunderstorms can be seen swirling over the western Gulf of Mexico. (AccuWeather/Enhanced RealVue™ satellite)
Flooding rain will be a possibility into the second half of the week regardless if the tropical rainstorm becomes a named tropical storm. Multiple rounds of rain and thunderstorms may move over the same locations, causing rainfall totals to quickly rise.
While those totals may be manageable at first, repeated rounds of rain can lead to flooding issues in a process known as "training." Motorists encountering flooded roads are reminded to never attempt driving through floodwaters, as they can be much deeper than they appear to be.
Despite the flood threat, rain is badly needed in Louisiana and coastal Texas. Nearly all of this coastline is in some form of drought, with many areas in the "extreme" drought category according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Cities such as San Antonio and Houston, Texas, along with Lake Charles, Louisiana, fall into a drought category. While it will take more than a single event to end a drought, this will be a step in the right direction.
Regardless of how this tropical rainstorm evolves, it can serve as a reminder that the Atlantic hurricane season is well underway. AccuWeather forecasters continue to predict an above-average season, both in the number of named storms and U.S. landfall.
One storm is already in the books with Tropical Storm Alex tracking near Florida at the start of June. Another system was brewing in the southern Caribbean near the coast of South America. The next tropical storms will be named Bonnie and Colin.
Folks looking for a break from the rain for the Independence Day weekend will be in luck. An expansive area of high pressure will build over the region by the weekend, pushing the stalled front eastward and ending the rainfall threat. While isolated afternoon storms will still be possible, they will be much tamer than the heavier rain possible over the coming days.
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