Weather

Update: All eyes are on Invest 99 and possible Gulf track

The chance of Invest 99 developing into a tropical depression in the next two days dropped from 50 percent to 40 percent Thursday after the Hurricane Hunters found the tropical wave moving through the southeastern Bahamas isn’t becoming organized.

The 2 p.m. report from the National Hurricane Center said the Hurricane Hunters found the system still lacks a closed circulation and the strongest winds associated with the system likely have decreased to below tropical storm strength.

That report doesn’t signal the all-clear, however. While formation chance is at 40 percent in the next 48 hours, it increases to 70 percent through the next 5 days.

“In addition, shower and thunderstorm activity has become significantly less organized during the past 24 hours,” the report said. “Although upper-level winds are not conducive for significant development during the next day or so, they could become more favorable over the weekend or early next week when the wave is expected to approach southern Florida or the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.”

With so many uncertainties, those who are watching the forecasts to see if the storm is heading to South Mississippi should disregard the current models, Rocco Calaci, chief meteorologist at MetLoop, said Thursday.

Calaci, who is based in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and accurately called the track of Hurricane Katrina 11 years ago, apologized for his Wednesday newsletter. It showed the European model track with the storm aimed at South Mississippi.

“It threw numerous people into a panic,” he said. “I watched the ECMWF consistently place the potential tropical activity squarely along the Mississippi – Louisiana border for several days. The ECMWF has a history of being more reliable with tropical activity, when compared to the GFS model.

“Until Invest 99 increases in size and strength, I’m back to having no confidence in the model results,” Calaci said.

The storm would become Hurricane Hermine (pronounced Her-Meen) if it develops. Some models show it moving into the Gulf of Mexico, he said, and others show it moving through the center of Florida, from Miami, to Orlando, and out to sea over Jacksonville.

“The reason for all this confusion is due to the fact that Invest 99 has not shown any further development,” he said, “throwing the numerical models into a state of confusion.”

The Biloxi-based Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters that are based in Biloxi are flying into Invest 99-L from St. Croix, Virgin Islands, to help the National Hurricane Center determine whether Invest 99 has the potential to develop into a tropical system.

What to do to prepare for possible storm:

Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said that while it is unsure if South Mississippi will see tropical weather, there are some things residents should do now to prepare for the possibility of a storm:

1. Twice a day, check for National Weather Service official tropical updates.

2. Do not cancel travel plans, unless they are to the islands in the area of the storm.

3. Review hurricane plans and know what evacuation route your family would take.

4. Put away any items in the yard that you won’t be using.

5. Refresh hurricane supplies such as food and water you may have used.

6. Those who haven’t put aside hurricane supplies should should do so now.

7. A checklist for hurricane preparedness is at co.harrison.ms.us/departments/ema/whattodo.asp

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