On May 17th, DTN Marine Meteorologists began monitoring the potential for tropical development across the far western Caribbean Sea. Ensemble model guidance from both American and European forecast centers were hinting at the development of a broad low forming and slowly moving northward. On May 21st, the National Hurricane Center officially started issuing Special Tropical Outlooks for this feature, now designated as Invest 90L.
At present, 90L is located near the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, with expansive thunderstorm activity to the east. Over the next 24 to 48 hours, 90L will track northward and into the southern Gulf of Mexico. An upper-level low-pressure system located off the coast of Texas is bringing rather strong wind shear to much of the Gulf at present, which will hamper any significant development over the next few days. As 90L moves into the northcentral and northeastern Gulf this weekend, environmental conditions will become a bit more favorable for development. Most ensemble forecast guidance is on board with strengthening low pressure this weekend, which is why both DTN Marine Meteorologists and the National Hurricane Center are forecasting an 80% chance of development of at least a tropical depression across the northern Gulf of Mexico by Monday.
Regardless of whether this low develops tropically, adverse weather conditions are expected in areas offshore east of the Mississippi Delta from Saturday night through Tuesday. The harshest weather will occur to the east of the low center due to the continued enhanced westerly wind shear across the northern Gulf of Mexico. Gale force wind gusts will be possible, with widespread showers and storms causing hazardous conditions to operations in the northeastern Gulf. If the low materializes as expected, a long period of enhanced southerly winds will drive seas to rough heights in areas off the coasts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
Impacts inland are likely as well, but they will be much more dependent on the exact track and evolution of the low, which is unknown at this time. At the very least, enhanced rainfall can be expected across Florida, which was recently impacted by several days of heavy rainfall due to another low-pressure system passing to the west.
Over the next several days, DTN Marine Meteorologists will continue to track the evolution of Invest 90L, providing critical updates to interests offshore in the form of daily forecasts, squall updates, and conference calls. For more general information, stay tuned to the blog, as another post will be coming this weekend with an update as the track of 90L becomes clearer.