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Tropical Storm Bill forms, but focus is on the Gulf

June 15, 2021, satellite image of the tropics.
June 15, 2021, satellite image of the tropics. (CIRA/RAMMB)

There are three systems out there, but only the broad circulation in the extreme southwestern Gulf has the potential to cause problems in the foreseeable future.

The Gulf system isn’t getting organized yet, in fact it’s jammed up along the coast of Mexico. But, the National Hurricane Center is giving it a good chance of becoming at least a tropical depression, and it could reach tropical-storm strength with winds of at least 40 mph on its east side. The system, whatever form it takes, is expected to impact the Texas, Louisiana, or Mississippi coast around the weekend.

If it did become a tropical storm, it would be named Claudette.

The atmospheric pattern over the Gulf isn’t expected to be especially conducive for strengthening, so a super strong storm is not expected. But extreme rain amounts have already fallen in Louisiana this spring, so heavy rain with this system will fall on saturated ground.

A strengthening high-pressure system over the Atlantic will start pushing the system north tomorrow or Thursday. The pressure difference between the potential depression and that high will likely generate some very gusty winds on the east side of the system when it is near the Gulf coast.

Since the circulation is expected to be poorly defined, the exact track is not going to be important. The nasty weather will be displaced to the east.

Off the coast of North Carolina, Tropical Storm Bill strengthened a bit over the Gulf Stream. It should be weakening by tomorrow as it moves into the cold waters of the North Atlantic.

On the other side of the Atlantic a large tropical disturbance is plowing west. It’s quickly going to run into a big batch of Saharan dust, however. Plus the upper-level winds should become more hostile. So the odds are low that it will amount to much.

Later in the season, we would watch large disturbances like this one very closely, of course. But for now, the dust should keep those East Atlantic systems under control.

Some dust has already reached the Florida peninsula, which ironically can make the thunderstorms stronger if the other ingredients are in place for strong storms, which they are. Another surge of dust this weekend will combine with a drying trend. In that scenario, the dust tends to make it hot because fewer cooling thunderstorms can form.

Dust may also wrap into the disturbance in the Gulf, perhaps limiting its ability to strengthen.

The evolution of the Gulf system should be underway by Thursday. We should have a better idea by then how far east the effects will be felt, though it is not expected to affect the Florida peninsula.


About the Author:

Bryan Norcross is currently a hurricane specialist at Local 10 News, the station where he began his stretch on television in Miami in 1983.