Thursday Evening: Tropical Weather Update

TROPICAL DEPRESSION 14 REMAIN FRAGILE AS IT APPROACHES THE GULF

Tropical Depression 14 is still struggling to develop tonight as it makes it’s way across the Western Caribbean towards the Gulf of Mexico.

There is still not a closed circulation on the system tonight as it makes it’s way through west at 18 MPH. At last update the National Hurricane Center reported winds of 35 mph and it must reach 39 miles per hour to make it a tropical storm.

What is hindering the development of this storm is dry air. TD 14 is wrapped in dry air at the surface and while it might look pretty impressive on radar—it really isn’t. Throughout the day today it has done just what we have seen during the life cycle of this system and that is the thunderstorms end up collapsing just after they develop because of dry air at the surface and some wind shear that is tearing this thing apart and causing the thunderstorms to have to rebuild. That means that for the moment we have a fairly unimpressive and weak system. BUT…..

As those thunderstorms collapse they leave behind residual surface moisture and allow more food for development. Remember, you need lift, moisture and instability. Right now, TD 14 has three of those components and there is even a good level of moisture in the higher levels of the atmosphere that is feeding the system. But, it needs to complete the cycle with a more more moisture at the lower levels and today we just have not seen that happen—just like the past three or four days.

THINGS CHANGE

We are looking at where this thing is when it cross the Yucatán and into the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend. Will it be healthy system? Can it develop more moisture? Is it going to speed up or slow down? Those are three main questions that we are asking ourselves right now and models are wide when it comes to giving us an answer. There just won’t be a solid answer to that question until tomorrow or Saturday. That said, there is still a lot of uncertainty in the forecast, but we here in Corpus Christi should keep our eyes on this thing.

HERE IS WHY

Right now there is a tough of low pressure over the northern Gulf of Mexico and in a strange sort of way, that will serve as a magnet to draw the system into the Gulf and likely more North. But, that will depend on how fast TD 14 moves once it is in the Gulf.

A faster track takes the system more north towards Louisiana, a slower track will force the system south. that means we cannot write this one off as a miss just yet. Not by far. The reason is because we still are not certain how this system reacts when it gets into the Gulf and how fast it will go once it is in there.

The good news is that there is high pressure out over the Rockies and high pressure out over the Atlantic. 14 will eventually get trapped in between those two pressure systems and, like they do, this storm will follow the path of least resistance. Two things that a tropical system does not like is wind shear and dry air. We should get a little protection from both of those early next week. But, if 14 does become healthier and able to push through that dry air and shear then all best are off. The most likely scenario is somewhere between Freeport, Texas and Cameron, La. Forecasters will fine tune that as we eat into the weekend, but that seems the most logical solution so far.

Turning away from that right now we are les concerned with TD 13 that is making it’s way towards the eastern Gulf tonight. This has been a very unimpressive storm itself and while it has finally broken that elongated pattern over the past 24 hours, it is just not that healthy of a storm. The impacts of 13 will likely stay pretty far to our east but it does bear some thought until it is completely gone.

Here is what is impressive: We could, and most likely will have two named storms in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time. It has been awhile since that has happened. Another interesting note is that while we are on record pace as far as named storms, none of these storms have been overly healthy storms. Researches are starting to look at the reasoning behind that and are studying the exact causes beyond the most obvious scientific solutions.

If you have friends or family in southeast Texas, now is the time for them to begin getting into action mode and less into the “wait-and-see” mode. For us, it is most likely still “let’s just watch it.”

Matt Pierce Briscoe contributed to this report from Corpus Christi, Texas. Doug Mason contributed to this report from Miami, Florida. It was filed on March 20, 2020 at 9:48 pm CDT.

Disclaimer: All of the information contained here is the interpretation of the authors and is not considered to be “official” in any form. Always consult the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service for the most accurate and up to date forecast available. Your local NWS forecast office in Corpus Christi is the most reliable source for the main forecast.