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Tropical threat may brew in Gulf of Mexico, send more downpours into central US this week

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
June 03, 2019, 12:32:56 PM EDT

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is officially underway, and the southwestern Gulf of Mexico may serve as the breeding ground for the next tropical depression or storm early this week.

A broad area of unsettled weather traversing across the Bay of Campeche is being monitored for potential tropical development.

An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft may be sent out to investigate the area on Monday afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center.

SW Gulf early Mon

This image of the southwestern Gulf of Mexico taken early Monday, June 3, 2019, shows a swirl of clouds in the area of concern. (NOAA)

"There is a medium to high chance for tropical development in the Bay of Campeche," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski. "That means the system could become a tropical depression and perhaps a tropical storm within the next 48 hours."

The warm waters of the Bay of Campeche will provide the necessary fuel for the system to strengthen.

There is also relatively low wind shear, or changing of wind speed and/or direction with altitude, over the Bay of Campeche, which provides a conducive environment for tropical features to organize.

"Latest indications point toward the system moving inland near Tampico, Mexico, between late Monday and Tuesday," Kottlowski said. "The later the system moves inland, the more likely it could become a tropical depression or even a tropical storm."

The next tropical storm that develops in the Atlantic will be called Barry.

Tropical downpours

Should the feature manage to stay offshore and take a more northward track, perhaps paralleling the Mexico and South Texas coast, the chance of development to a tropical storm may be significantly greater. However, the feature will encounter more wind shear as it wanders farther north.

Regardless of whether it strengthens into a full-fledged tropical system, heavy rainfall will continue to inundate Mexico and parts of Belize and Guatemala early this week. There can be an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 12 inches (300 mm) in the higher terrain of eastern Mexico.

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"This heavy rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash flooding and landslides," Kottlowski said.

Tropical moisture is then expected to be pulled northward into the United States.

Tropical concern June 2 pm

"Rain from this system will spread northward into southern and southeastern Texas from Monday night into Wednesday," according to Kottlowski. Seas will also build along the Texas coastline during this time, creating dangers for swimmers and operators of small craft.

The downpours can trigger areas of flash flooding and travel disruptions in Brownsville, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Houston and Galveston, Texas.

The risk for flooding will expand well away from the coastline.

"There is great concern that torrential downpours associated with the feature, developed or not, may overlap areas that are currently being hit hard by flooding or teetering on the edge of flooding over the South Central states during the first full week of June," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

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"The moisture from the tropical feature may combine with a non-tropical storm from Texas and Louisiana to parts of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Iowa, during the middle to latter part of this week," he added. This would enhance downpours and heighten the flood threat even further.

Downpours can also spread across the Ohio and Tennessee valleys later in the week.

Between the tropical downpours later this week and the rounds of severe and heavy thunderstorms occurring early this week, there can be an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 8 inches from northern Texas to southeastern Kansas, southwestern Missouri and western Arkansas.

There can be similar localized totals in southeastern Texas and the lower Mississippi Valley if an organized tropical feature moves through later in the week.

More rain

Yet another round of downpours can have a significant effect on the crop yields of many different plants over the summer growing season across the central U.S.

"The wheat crop is close to harvesting, and any significant rain can cause the wheat to sprout before it is harvested," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert. "That can substantially cut the yield and the quality of the wheat that is available."

The southern half of the Corn Belt is also in the path of the tropical downpours.

"Any corn not planted in the Midwest before this rain moves in may not be able to be planted," Reppert stated. "Corn that is planted this week will likely see a 30% drop in yield from the late planting, and the next chance to plant in mid-June will make it too late."

River flooding June 2

"Another area of concern for potential tropical development is an area southeast of Bermuda," according to Kottlowski. "There is a low chance for an organized tropical feature to form later this week."

Subtropical Storm Andrea became the first-named storm of the season when it spun up southwest of Bermuda on May 20.

This marked the fifth consecutive year with a named storm in the Atlantic basin before the official start of the season.

The official season lasts from June 1 until Nov. 30.

Download the free AccuWeather app to stay aware of all the latest tropical activity this season. Keep checking back for updates on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

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