The next tropical storm could impact the U.S. just a week after Henri drenched parts of the Northeast and knocked out power to tens of thousands of people.
A cluster of thunderstorms in the Caribbean off the Colombian coast has caught the attention of meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center. They expect the system to become more organized over the next few days, giving it an 80% chance of becoming a tropical storm over the weekend.
Environmental conditions — very warm waters and fairly low levels of wind shear — are forecast to be conducive for development, and a tropical depression is likely to form later this week while the system moves west across the northwestern Caribbean Sea. The NHC expects the disturbance to move near or across the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico on Saturday, then into the western Gulf of Mexico by Sunday where conditions could be favorable for additional development into a tropical storm.
Most of the latest computer forecast models are consistent on the system developing into a named storm, steadily intensifying the system throughout its journey. As of Wednesday morning, landfall would be somewhere near the Texas-Louisiana border. However, a direct hit could happen farther west or east, anywhere from South Texas to New Orleans. This margin of error will gradually narrow over the next few days.
The timing of the impacts along the coast would be Monday and Tuesday, although impacts at ports and offshore oil rigs and platforms would begin Sunday.
Two other potential tropical storms are brewing — one in the middle of the Atlantic, the other off the West African coast — but these are not forecast to affect any land masses. They will only be a concern for container ships on the open waters. If the system heading toward the U.S. becomes a tropical storm, its name will either be Ida or Julian, depending on whether one of the other systems beats it to the punch.
Potential lanes of concern
Interstate 10 from Houston to New Orleans
Interstate 69 from Houston to Brownsville, Texas
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