It’s officially time to keep an eye on the tropics as we enter the heart of hurricane season.
Three organized storm systems are swirling off the coast of Africa, and they have a straight shot across the Atlantic Ocean during this time of year.
If conditions are favorable, a hurricane could be churning in the Gulf of Mexico within weeks.
That excludes Hurricane Gert, which is on its way to the great beyond and poses no threat to the United States.
There is not much consensus yet on where the three storms will go, and the many weather prediction models have been changing day-to-day. For example, on Monday the European model, ECMWF, predicted a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico by Aug. 24. Tuesday, the model shows nothing in the Gulf on Aug. 24. This is not unusual, as these storm areas are barely organized and hard to predict.
The three storms are Invest 91, Invest 92 and an unnamed tropical wave. If you’re wondering why invests are always numbered in the 90s, it’s because the other numbers are taken. In the Atlantic, one through 50 get used for actual tropical storms and hurricanes. Invests, or areas of possible development that are being investigated, start at 90 each year and go to 99, then start at 90 again.
As of Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center gave both invests a 50 percent chance of development over the next five days. Most models put Invest 91 continuing straight west into the Caribbean Sea, where conditions are not very favorable for development.
Conditions are better for Invest 92, and it is — so far — forecast to move northwest toward the tip of Florida. NHC does expect upper-level winds to tamp down development, though.
The third tropical wave so far has a similar track as Invest 92, with a 40 percent chance of development over five days.
As Gulf Coast residents know, the models are rarely reliable this far in advance. But that is no reason to rest easy. Even if these three storms fizzle out or strike a foreign shore, more are likely on the way.
South Mississippians, especially those planning events or trips this month, should stay updated on the latest tropical developments. And as always, the Sun Herald will make sure its readers are informed of any storms that pose a threat to the Gulf Coast.