FIRST ALERT: Tropical Depression Nineteen a significant threat to the Gulf Coast
Tropical Depression Nineteen continues to spin across southern Florida Saturday morning producing sustained winds near 35 mph and heavy rain. Satellite imagery indicates storms blowing up near the center of the storm. The depression looks fairly organized, and it is expected to strengthen later today once it moves over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Tropical Depression Nineteen to strengthen into a tropical storm later today or tonight. The next name on the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane list is Sally. If and when Sally forms, it will be the earliest 18th named storm on record in the Atlantic. The old record for the earliest 18th named storm occurred on October 2, 2005 (Stan). The latest forecast shows the depression slowing down as it approaches the Gulf Coast Monday into Tuesday. The center of the storm could make landfall anywhere along the Louisiana coastline to the Florida Panhandle. The most likelihood of a landfall could occur in southeast Louisiana or Mississippi Monday night into Tuesday.
Intensity forecasts can be difficult with tropical systems. The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center shows it becoming a hurricane with winds up to 80 mph as it approaches the Gulf Coast. Based on what I’ve seen, I think it could end up stronger due to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I think areas along the Gulf Coast should prepare for the potential to see a stronger hurricane. It is always better to be overprepared than not prepared at all.
The big problem with Nineteen won’t necessarily be the wind, but the rain and flooding. The forecast has this system slowing down as it make landfall. With very little steering flow to move the system away, Nineteen could stall and slowly move to the north across Louisiana and Mississippi for a few days. Round of heavy rain will likely impact Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle for most of next week. Rainfall totals along the coast could add up around 8-12 inches over the next seven days. Inland flooding is a significant threat. It would not surprise me if flash flood watches are issued for parts of the Southeast next week.
Local Impacts from Tropical Depression Nineteen:
Central Alabama could see outer rain bands impact the area by Monday and Tuesday. Plan for off and on showers that could produce gusty winds and heavy rain. Higher rainfall totals will likely occur south of I-20 for the first half of the week. There’s a chance a cold front could help to steer and move the storm northeastwards into Alabama by Thursday and Friday. If this occurs, rain chances could go up. With more cloud cover and higher rain chances, temperatures may trend well below average with highs in the upper 70s Thursday and Friday. Rainfall totals across Central Alabama could add up around 2-4 inches with higher totals south of I-20. Flooding will be the main concern based on the current forecast. It remains too early to determine if we will see a severe threat. A lot can change between now and the end of next week. We will keep you updated online, TV, and through the WBRC First Alert Weather App.
The rest of the tropics remains very active. We continue to watch Paulette which will likely become a hurricane later today. The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center has Paulette becoming a Category 2 hurricane when it approaches Bermuda Monday morning. A hurricane watch has been issued for Bermuda. Conditions will likely deteriorate Sunday night. Once it moves past Bermuda, it will recurve into the North Atlantic Ocean and away from the United States.
Rene is poorly organized and was downgraded to a Tropical Depression. It will remain over open waters of the Central Atlantic Ocean. It is expected to remain a tropical depression and eventually lose tropical characteristics over the next 2-3 days. It will not impact the United States.
We are also watching two tropical waves moving off the coast of Africa. They both have a good chance to develop into a tropical depression or storm in the next couple of days. It would not surprise me if we end up tracking five named storms early next week. The remaining names on the list are Teddy, Vicky, and Wilfred. Once this list comes to an end, we will have to use the Greek alphabet to name the rest of the storms that form in October and November. The only season to use up all of the names on the list and go Greek was the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Hurricane season officially ends in the Atlantic on November 30th.
WBRC First Alert Meteorologist Matt Daniel
Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.