May 31, 2020

Heavy Rain Likely Along Gulf Coast This Week As A Tropical Disturbance Enters Gulf


The National Hurricane Center gives a tropical disturbance over Central America a 60 percent chance of developing into a tropical depression over the Gulf of Mexico later this week. Regardless of development, the system is going to be a heavy rain threat to much of the Gulf Coast. This is going to be a slow-burn event and we have several days to watch and wait for what happens next.

Heavy rain and widespread flooding are ongoing across much of Central America as the remnants of the eastern Pacific's first tropical storm of the year linger over Guatemala. The system, former Tropical Storm Amanda, has produced more than a foot of rain at higher elevations, bringing flash flooding and mudslides to vulnerable areas.

A large-scale circulation known as a "Central American Gyre" will foster unsettled conditions over the region throughout the week. The remnants of Amanda will continue to bubble over the next couple of days in that favorable environment, slowly drifting toward the Gulf of Mexico by midweek. It's in the Bay of Campeche that the National Hurricane Center sees a 60 percent chance for tropical development by the middle of the week.

Source: WPC

Regardless of tropical development, this is a rainmaker if there ever was one. The latest precipitation forecast from the Weather Prediction Center shows an enormous amount of rain falling over the Gulf of Mexico over the next seven days. The outer extent of the rain touches coastal areas from southern Florida to eastern Louisiana, potentially leading to flooding issues if too much heavy rain falls all at once.

The closer the system gets to the United States, the greater the potential for heavy rain over land. Everyone from Texas to Florida needs to keep an eye on the forecasts to see how this system develops and prepare now for potential flooding or wind-damage issues. Map out alternate routes to get to work, home, or to run errands. Areas that don't normally flood can wind up covered in water during exceptionally heavy rain events. It may be difficult to stock up on emergency supplies given the pandemic, but it never hurts to have a few extra non-perishables and batteries on hand in case the power goes out.

This is going to be a watch-and-wait situation. I know we hate those when it comes to the weather, but it's both a curse and a benefit of modern weather forecasting. It seems like a headache to watch something for a week to see if you'll be fine or if you need to invest in a pontoon boat, but hey, that's an improvement over the old way of finding out you'd get hit with a windswept flood once the waters started rising.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1, but we already saw two tropical storms during the month of May. The next name on the list is Cristobal.


Correction: I put the wrong date on the NHC outlook map above. The outlook was issued on May 31, not May 30 like I had in the original. Fixed. Sorry.


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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I ran Gawker's The Vane for two years and I've contributed to Mental Floss, Forbes, Popular Science, and the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. I also teamed up with Outdoor Life to write a book called The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, which came out in October 2015.

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