New Tropical Disturbance?

September 19, 2007 at 2:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The last two weeks of August and the first two weeks of September are usually the most active of the tropical weather season, which runs from June 1 through November 30. As we near the end of the “most active” weeks, a new tropical disturbance has formed between Florida and the Bahamas, and it could affect North Texas.

This disturbance is bringing heavy rains to south Florida, but it’s moving to the west, heading for the Gulf of Mexico, and could strengthen into a tropical depression.

A tropical depression is a warm-core low pressure system (that means the center of the low pressure system is warm on the ground, but also warm aloft) with winds under 38mph.
It becomes a tropical storm once those winds increase to 39mph. At this point, the storm is named. If the winds increase to 74mph, it then becomes a hurricane. Once a hurricane, the intensity is rated on a scale from 1 to 5: one being the weakest hurricane with winds between 74mph and 95mph….5 being the strongest with winds over 155mph.

Only three Category 5 hurricanes have hit the U.S.: The Labor Day hurricane of 1935, which hit the Florida Keys, Hurricane Camille, which hit Biloxi/Pass Christian in 1969…the same places Katrina hit….and Hurricane Andrew, which hit Southeast Florida in 1992.

(When Katrina was over open water, it reached Category 5 status, but by the time it hit, it had weakened to a Category 3 storm.)

The problem in weather forecasting is the chaotic nature of the atmosphere the farther you go ahead in time. Many different computer models have many different ideas on what happens…and some of these computer models show that the current Florida disturbance may move due west, all the way to the upper Texas coast by Sunday night and Monday morning. Still others show it moving into the Gulf of Mexico and curving northward into the Florida Panhandle.

Right now, I wouldn’t cancel any weekend outdoor plans until we have a better handle on this new tropical system.

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