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1:50 PM | *Tropical system over Gulf of Mexico to slam Florida and parts of SE U.S....has to be watched here for potential Labor Day weekend surprise*

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1:50 PM | *Tropical system over Gulf of Mexico to slam Florida and parts of SE U.S....has to be watched here for potential Labor Day weekend surprise*

Paul Dorian

 Recent GOES-13 satellite image showing extensive cloud cover over the Gulf of Mexico associated with tropical depression #9; image courtesy NOAA, NASA

Recent GOES-13 satellite image showing extensive cloud cover over the Gulf of Mexico associated with tropical depression #9; image courtesy NOAA, NASA

Short-term outlook on Gulf of Mexico tropical system
The latest GOES-13 satellite image shows a widespread area of deep convection over the Gulf of Mexico with heavy rains continuing over western Cuba where there has been significant flooding.  Tropical Depression #9 is likely closing in on "tropical storm" status and it will be investigated this afternoon by NOAA hurricane hunters to better determine its actual current strength. All indications are that intensification will take place over the next couple of days as vertical wind shear over the system decreases. Heavy rain on the order of 6-12" is possible from this system across portions of central and northern Florida later this week.

 Torrential rainfall expected over Florida from this tropical system; map courtesy Weather Bell Analytics (Dr. Ryan Maue), NOAA

Torrential rainfall expected over Florida from this tropical system; map courtesy Weather Bell Analytics (Dr. Ryan Maue), NOAA

Amazingly, the state of Florida has not had a hurricane of any intensity since Wilma came ashore in southwestern Florida during late October of 2005. Hurricane Wilma was also the last major hurricane (i.e., category 3, 4 or 5) to strike US soil in what has turned out to be another amazing streak. It remains to be seen whether this system can actually reach hurricane status by landfall, but regardless, it'll certainly be a heavy rain producer.   

 NOAA's predicted storm track for tropical depression #9; courtesy NOAA/National Hurricane Center

NOAA's predicted storm track for tropical depression #9; courtesy NOAA/National Hurricane Center

Longer-term outlook on Gulf of Mexico tropical system
Once this tropical system crosses over Florida from southwest-to-northeast it is likely to produce heavy rainfall in southern/eastern sections of Georgia and also across coastal sections of the Carolinas in the Friday/Saturday time frame.  After that, this system is likely to push away from the eastern part of the Carolinas and towards the open Atlantic.  However, there is a chance that this system will have a last minute trick up-its-sleeve and come menacingly close to the Mid-Atlantic or New England coastlines over the Labor Day weekend. In fact, the latest GFS model forecast for Sunday morning shows the system just off the Mid-Atlantic coastline with strong winds very close to the coastline.  At a minimum, a close call like this would create rough surf along much of the Mid-Atlantic and New England coastlines this Labor Day weekend - and it could be a lot worse than that.  

The key to this potential (and feasible) solution is strong high pressure to the north which pushes off the northeast US coastline to near Nova Scotia, Canada by early Sunday – at least according to the latest GFS model run.  From this position, the strong high pressure system could actually act to slow down and push the system back towards the coastline. This potential pattern is somewhat reminiscent of the "banana-shaped" high pressure system noted around here in the Northeast US during winter storm situations - something snow-lovers root for since it tends to cause storms to slow down and dump more snow.

 12Z GFS forecast map for Sunday morning; courtesy tropicaltidbits.com, NOAA

12Z GFS forecast map for Sunday morning; courtesy tropicaltidbits.com, NOAA

Eastern Atlantic tropical wave
Another tropical system has pushed off the west coast of Africa and it looks like it’ll take an ominous “southern track” which could result in a big concern in the SE US and thereabouts in about ten days or so. 

Stay tuned, talk about an active tropics, and there could be an impact right here this holiday weekend.

Meteorologist Paul Dorian
Vencore, Inc.