NOAA Satellites shows storm brewing in Gulf of Mexico
The National Hurricane Center on Tuesday night warned a tropical system is developing over the Gulf Coast more quickly than previously forecast.
There is a 90 percent chance of development in the next 48 hours, up from 40 percent earlier Tuesday, and an 80 percent chance over the next five days.
Tropical storm, hurricane and storm-surge watches may be issued as soon as Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service in New Orleans warned Tuesday night.
An area of low pressure called Invest 92 that was hovering over Georgia has moved south to the Florida panhandle and into the Gulf of Mexico, where warm waters and environmental conditions are favorable for the storm to organize. It’s then expected to slowly drift west across the northern Gulf Coast and return to land over Louisiana or Texas.
“A tropical depression is likely to form by late Wednesday or Thursday,” the Hurricane Center said Tuesday afternoon.
The Hurricane Hunters Air Force Reserve unit, based at Biloxi’s Keesler Air Force Base, is scheduled to fly out to investigate Wednesday afternoon.
Regardless of whether the storm strengthens, the Mississippi Coast is likely to see heavy rains. The weather service in New Orleans estimates anywhere from 3 to 8 inches could fall through Monday as the slow-moving storm heads west before moving inland Saturday or Sunday.
Higher-than-normal tides and gusty winds also are possible, which would cause coastal flooding.
“A few weak/brief tornadoes may be possible, especially near coastal areas of southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi beginning on Thursday, which may last into the upcoming weekend,” the weather service said Tuesday.
So far, models show the storm staying close to land as it moves west, hampering its ability to strengthen into a tropical storm, which would be named Barry. However, with water temperatures above normal, any southern deviation from the models could result in strengthening.
Harrison County has opened self-serve sand bag stations at the following places:
- Harrison County Road Department at 11076 Lorraine Road
- D’Iberville Work Center at 190085 1st Ave. W
- Lyman Work Center at 15001 County Farm Road
- Woolmarket Work Center at 16395 Old Woolmarket Road
- District 4 Work Center at 8300 34th Ave. in Gulfport
- Long Beach Work Center at 605 N. Seal Ave.
On Tuesday, FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program sent press releases to Gulf Coast cities urging people to purchase flood insurance.
An inch of water in an average home can require $25,000 in repairs, the agencies said, and flood insurance policies need 30 days to take effect. An evacuation plan and an emergency kit with at least three days’ supplies also are recommended.
Also Tuesday, Colorado State University updated its seasonal forecast saying 2019 should be near-average with 14 named storms because Atlantic sea temperatures are near-average and not favorable for an active season.
“As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them,” the forecast said. “They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”