Parts of the U.S., Mexico on alert for tropical development in the coming week
An eye is seen forming as Erick becomes a hurricane near the Hawaiian islands on July 31. It has since weakened into a tropical storm.
While tropical storm formation has been scarce so far this tropical season, the area near Central America may become a breeding ground for tropical activity later this week.
Over Central America, patches of heavy rain and thunderstorms will continue to gather compliments of a large and slowly-spinning, non-tropical storm, called a gyre.
"The large gyre over Central America will continue to bring an active pattern to northern Central America and southern Mexico the next few days," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Max Vido.
"Periods of heavy rain will continue to effect these areas over the next several days, leading to flooding and potentially higher-terrain mudslides from Columbia to southeastern Mexico," Vido added.
As a bit of energy from a tropical wave reaches this gyre, it may give birth to a tropical depression over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico later this week, unless a depression forms on the Pacific side of Central America instead.
With the setup, there may not be enough atmospheric support for two systems: one in the Gulf and one in the nearby Pacific at the same time.
Should a tropical depression develop in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico later this week, steering breezes may direct the feature northward toward the Texas coast with perhaps additional strengthening.
Should a tropical depression develop over the eastern Pacific, steering breezes would likely take the feature westward and progressively farther away from land with considerable strengthening possible.
Cruise, shipping, coastal and petroleum interests in the region should monitor the situation.
Even if no definable tropical feature evolves in the western Gulf, a surge of drenching showers and thunderstorms may push into parts of northeastern Mexico, coastal and central Texas and Louisiana late this week or this weekend.
This image, taken on Friday, August 16, 2019, shows a mass of clouds associated with showers and thunderstorms over Central America. A large, slow-spinning storm, or gyre, is likely developing in the region and could give birth to a tropical system next week. (NOAA)
Elsewhere across the Atlantic and the Eastern Pacific basins, things have been quiet so far.
"Wind shear has been quite extensive across the Atlantic basin the past few weeks and is, in part, one of the reasons why we have not seen any tropical storm development across the Atlantic Basin since mid-July with Barry," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
"Long-range forecasts show less extensive shear but still enough to cause problems with westward-moving tropical waves, or disturbances, during the next week or so," Kottlowski said.
Extensive areas of dry air and dust have been inhibiting factors as well. While moisture can gather quickly regardless of current conditions, the amount of dust, which tends to keep a lid on shower and thunderstorm formation, may begin to diminish next week.
This could lead to an uptick in tropical activity across the remainder of the Atlantic Basin before the end of the month.
What has happened so far and what is the AccuWeather 2019 Atlantic hurricane season forecast?
Over the years, the period from Aug. 20 through Sept. 11 marks the sharpest increase in named tropical systems in the Atlantic Basin.
AccuWeather meteorologists are forecasting a total of 12-14 named storms with five to seven hurricanes and two to four major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) for the entire 2019 year.
AccuWeather estimates that two to four United States landfalls of named systems are likely.
Thus far, there have been two named storms, including one hurricane. Barry was the only system to make landfall in the United States so far and did so as a Category 1 hurricane.
"With the weakening of El Niño, conditions are expected to become not only much more conducive for tropical storm formation but may also lead to multiple occasions with more than one named system spinning in the Atlantic Basin at the same time, as well as a late and strong finish to the season," Kottlowski continues to emphasize.
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