Tropical Storm Gonzalo forms in the Atlantic while eyes locally remain on the Gulf

FIRST ALERT NOON FORECAST: Wednesday, July 22

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - We continue to see a burst of activity in the tropics, with the formation of Tropical Storm Gonzalo Wednesday, July 22 over the open Atlantic Ocean and development chances inching higher with a tropical wave (Invest 91L) moving across the Gulf of Mexico.

Satellite loop showing Invest 91L in the Gulf of Mexico and Tropical Storm Gonzalo over the open Atlantic Ocean.
Satellite loop showing Invest 91L in the Gulf of Mexico and Tropical Storm Gonzalo over the open Atlantic Ocean. (Source: WAFB)

Development chances are listed at 50% with the Gulf disturbance as of the 7 a.m. Wednesday tropical weather outlook from the National Hurricane Center. Little has changed in the forecast for this system, with the primary impact expected to be rainfall regardless of whether it develops into a tropical depression or not. And the system is still expected to move into Texas by late Friday or early Saturday.

Tropical weather outlook from the National Hurricane Center valid 7 a.m. Wednesday, July 22, 2020 indicates a 50% chance of tropical development in the Gulf of Mexico.
Tropical weather outlook from the National Hurricane Center valid 7 a.m. Wednesday, July 22, 2020 indicates a 50% chance of tropical development in the Gulf of Mexico. (Source: WAFB)
Animation of spin (referred to as vorticity) in the atmosphere about 1 mile above the ground. The animation shows 91L moving west into Texas, followed by a second disturbance tracking toward Louisiana from Sunday into Monday, July 27, 2020.
Animation of spin (referred to as vorticity) in the atmosphere about 1 mile above the ground. The animation shows 91L moving west into Texas, followed by a second disturbance tracking toward Louisiana from Sunday into Monday, July 27, 2020. (Source: WAFB)

With that in mind, look for widespread shower and t-storm activity locally beginning Thursday and continuing into Friday. Rains could be heavy at times and any of the stronger rain bands moving inland could produce some gusty winds. The upside is that clouds and rainfall should keep highs in the mid to upper 80s.

Showers and t-storms remain likely on Saturday even as our Gulf disturbance slides deeper into Texas. There will be plenty of moisture on its eastern flank to keep the rains going. By Sunday, a second disturbance will be approaching the northern Gulf Coast and that will keep our rain chances above normal into the early part of next week.

Rain totals of one inch to three inches seem to be a good bet through the weekend and with additional rains expected early next week, many of us could end up with two inches to four inches of rain over the next seven days. Locally heavier rains will be a real possibility with both disturbances delivering deep tropical moisture to the area.

Wednesday advisory and forecast track for Tropical Storm Gonzalo. Forecast uncertainty is high once the system reaches the Caribbean Sea.
Wednesday advisory and forecast track for Tropical Storm Gonzalo. Forecast uncertainty is high once the system reaches the Caribbean Sea. (Source: WAFB)

Farther out in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Gonzalo was born a little before 8 a.m. CDT on Wednesday. The 10 a.m. forecast update from NHC now indicates Gonzalo could become the season’s first hurricane as soon as Thursday morning. The five-day forecast is likely to raise some eyebrows locally, showing Gonzalo trucking steadily west-northwest through the Caribbean.

However, uncertainty remains high on its future by the weekend. Most of our reliable global models show the storm dissipating in the Caribbean as it potentially encounters some drier air and more hostile conditions. However, a couple of models hold onto Gonzalo, so NHC is taking the middle road for now and maintaining the storm into early next week. But there’s a real possibility it doesn’t survive that long.

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