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11:10 AM | Torrential rain in Florida and along the northern Gulf coast may exacerbate the Zika virus problem

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Weather forecasting and analysis, space and historic events, climate information

11:10 AM | Torrential rain in Florida and along the northern Gulf coast may exacerbate the Zika virus problem

Paul Dorian

 NOAA forecast of precipitation amounts over the next 7 days with excessive totals across the northern Gulf of Mexico; courtesy NOAA

NOAA forecast of precipitation amounts over the next 7 days with excessive totals across the northern Gulf of Mexico; courtesy NOAA

Overview
Torrential rainfall will inundate Florida and other sections of the Gulf coast over the next several days with some areas likely to receive more than a foot of rain.  Tropical moisture associated with a slow-moving tropical wave is causing rain today from Louisiana to Florida and much more rainfall is on the way.  There is little doubt that with this kind of excessive rainfall, standing water will become an increasing problem in the next several days and this can eventually lead to higher numbers of the type of mosquito that is known to spread the Zika virus. The tropical wave contributing to the excessive rainfall could reach "named tropical-storm" status as it moves over the very warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico; however, even if it does not do that, it’ll still have the ability to dump bucket loads of water on Florida and other parts of the Gulf coast. 

 South-to-southwest flow in low-levels of the atmosphere by Thursday night (00Z GFS) to bring moisture up the eastern seaboard; map courtesy tropicaltidbits.com, NOAA

South-to-southwest flow in low-levels of the atmosphere by Thursday night (00Z GFS) to bring moisture up the eastern seaboard; map courtesy tropicaltidbits.com, NOAA

Discussion
The downpours will initially be concentrated in Florida’s northwestern peninsula before becoming widespread across the panhandle by the middle of the week.  By the end of the week, the flood threat is likely to ease in Florida and increase westward along the Gulf coast to Louisiana and Texas.  Some of the tropical moisture is also likely to push northward along the eastern seaboard as clockwise flow around high pressure off the coast will promote a south-to-southwest flow of air in the low-levels of the atmosphere.  Our weather here in the Mid-Atlantic region will turn increasingly humid as the week progresses and the chance for showers and thunderstorms will become a daily threat during the second half of the week.  As far as the potential of tropical-storm development is concerned, water temperatures are near 90 degrees in some spots of the Gulf of Mexico and this is certainly a favorable factor.

 Sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico with very warm readings; map courtesy Weather Bell Analytics

Sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico with very warm readings; map courtesy Weather Bell Analytics

Zika is currently affecting more than 30 countries and territories in the Americas and Pacific Islands. Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. Aedes aegypti is known as a “container-breeding mosquito” because it likes to lay eggs in and around standing water. Studies show that female mosquitoes prefer to lay eggs in water that collects or is stored in manmade containers. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes lay eggs on the walls of water-filled containers. Eggs stick to containers like glue and remain attached until they are scrubbed off. The eggs can survive when they dry out—up to 8 months. When it rains or water covers the eggs, they hatch and become adults in about a week.

Meteorologist Paul Dorian
Vencore, Inc.