Weather

Flash flood watch issued as tropical systems swirl in Gulf

Bill and Leslie O'Brien of Vancleave fill sandbags on Monday, June 19, 2017 at the Harrison County Road Department in Gulfport for a disabled friend in preparation for expected heavy rains later this week from a tropical system developing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Bill and Leslie O'Brien of Vancleave fill sandbags on Monday, June 19, 2017 at the Harrison County Road Department in Gulfport for a disabled friend in preparation for expected heavy rains later this week from a tropical system developing in the Gulf of Mexico. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

Gulf states, including Mississippi, face the potential for the first tropical storm warning of the season within the next 48 hours as Invest 93 is forecast to move into the central Gulf of Mexico and become Tropical Storm Cindy.

Regardless of the path this poorly organized storm takes, the National Weather Service forecasts a threat of heavy rainfall, high tides and strong wind gusts for southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Coast.

The weather service issued a flash flood watch from Tuesday morning through Thursday evening for Harrison, Jackson, Hancock and Pearl River counties. The Coast could see 4 to 8 inches of rain through Friday, with the heaviest rains Wednesday and Thursday. The potential exists for up to 15 inches of rain, the weather service says.

Tides are expected to be 2 to 4 feet above normal, depending on the storm’s track. The areas at greatest risk of storm surge, the weather service says, are those with east and southeast-facing shores, including Hancock County.

The chance of tropical cyclone development in the Gulf is 80 percent within the next 48 hours, the weather service says. The storm has a poorly defined center of circulation, making its track unpredictable at this point. If the system remains disorganized, it could have a broad wind field and dump excessive rains all along the Gulf.

The National Hurricane Center split the difference between the two major forecast models and estimated landfall in western Louisiana, but urged residents all along the Gulf Coast to monitor the weather.

In weather service terminology, a tropical cyclone refers to a closed, low-level circulation system of clouds and thunderstorms originating over tropical or subtropical water. Wind speeds determine whether the system is a tropical depression, storm or hurricane.

Small-craft advisories over open seas could be issued as early as Monday night, the weather service says.

Hurricane Hunters

The Weather Channel notes Invest 93 is one of two tropical systems in the Atlantic, a rarity this early in the season. The second system is off the northern coast of South America, and became Tropical Storm Bret on Monday evening.

“In June, we average a named storm every other year in the Atlantic basin, and it’s very uncommon to see two named storms developing simultaneously in June,” said Carl Parker, a Weather Channel hurricane and storm specialist. “The storm that is developing in the Gulf could begin to affect the northern Gulf Coast as early as tomorrow morning, with gusty winds and elevated surf, along with waves of heavy rain.

“However, another reliable model drives the system more west than north, in which case it would take longer for the weather to move in.”

The Air Force Reserve’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, also known as the Hurricane Hunters, flew out to investigate the two tropical systems on Monday.

One plane left from Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi on a mission to investigate the center of Invest 93 to determine if it is becoming more organized and increasing in strength, an Air Force press release said. Another plane flew to the Virgin Islands over the weekend and left Monday to investigate the second system, determining it had strengthened to a tropical storm. The data collected is sent by satellite to the National Hurricane Center.

Parker said the storm headed to the Gulf is not expected to intensify into a hurricane.

“Regardless of where the center ends up,” he said, “deep tropical moisture will soak areas from Louisiana to Florida.”

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

Self-serve sandbags

These are locations of self serve sand bag locations in Harrison County:

Harrison County locations

  • Lorraine Road Work Center, Mississippi 605, Gulfport
  • Woolmarket Work Center, Mississippi 67
  • D’Iberville Work Center, 1st Ave/Rodriguez Street, D’Iberville
  • North Gulfport Work Center, Gulfport
  • Lyman Work Center, County Farm Road, Gulfport
  • Long Beach Work Center, Seal Avenue, Long Beach
  • Long Beach Harbor Parking Lot, Long Beach
  • Courthouse Road parking lot at Ken Combs Pier, Gulfport

City of Gulfport

  • Gulfport Public Works Center, Hewes Avenue, Gulfport
  • Orange Grove Community Center, Dedeaux Road, Gulfport
  • Fire Station #2-42nd Ave, west Gulfport

City Of Biloxi

  • 2059 Lawrence St.
  • Cavalier Park
  • 2150 Popps Ferry Road
  • Biloxi Soccer Fields/Dog Park
  • 9370 Oaklawn Road
  • Station 9 Barthes-Sentel Fire Station
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