Update: Tropical storm watches or warnings possible for northern Gulf Coast
As Chris quickly fades away in the northern Atlantic, all attention now turns to the Gulf of Mexico, where more tropical trouble is brewing.
After briefly becoming the season’s first Atlantic hurricane on Thursday, Chris weakened significantly over the colder waters of the northern Atlantic, a few hundred miles east southeast of Newfoundland, Canada.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Chris transitioned over to a post-tropical cyclone with only 45 mph winds as of the final advisory late Friday morning.
Continued weakening is forecast with the cyclone merging with another extra-tropical low pressure area on Saturday.
With Chris out the way, all attention has turned to the Gulf of Mexico, where the next tropical storm is highly likely to develop over the next few days.
A large low pressure system located near the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in the southern Gulf of Mexico was producing an extensive area of cloudiness with a large area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms.
Satellite data and surface observations indicates that the low pressure system is gradually becoming better organized with surface pressures continuing to fall across the area. Upper-level winds are also improving and are forecast to become more conducive for development of a tropical depression or storm in the Gulf over the next few days.
Several computer models develop the low pressure area into the next named storm Debby by late in the weekend and or early next week with an eventual threat to the Gulf Coast Region.
NHC is giving the system a 70 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours as it moves slowly northward into the central Gulf of Mexico.
An Air Force reserve reconnaissance hurricane hunter aircraft out of Biloxi previously scheduled an investigation of the developing Gulf system on Friday but pushed that back to Saturday.
While the development of the next tropical system appears likely, much uncertainty exist with the eventual track.
Most of the forecast models early Friday showed the potential tropical system moving northeast across Florida sometime next week as a result of a deepen trough in the East. On Thursday, there was a diverge of forecast models taking the system into Texas and Florida next week as a result of the deepen trough in the East and or building high pressure ridge over the central and southern U.S.
If Debby develops, it will be the first time on record that the fourth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season formed before the month of July.
All Gulf Coast residents are strongly advised to monitor the progress of this potential tropical system and be prepared in case your area is threatened.