Close eye on the Gulf as a true taste of fall arrives

FIRST ALERT FORECAST: Friday, Sept. 18-Close eye on the Gulf as a true taste of fall arrives

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Our local forecast provides us with some mixed news over the next seven days. The good news is, a true taste of fall will be arriving this weekend, and highs may only top out in the 70s beginning Sunday and continuing into much of next week. The bad news is, we likely have many days ahead tracking a slow-moving Tropical Depression #22 (future Beta?) in the western Gulf of Mexico.

Satellite and radar composite from Friday morning showing Tropical Depression #22 moving slowly to the north-northeast. The system is forecast to become Tropical Storm Alpha later today.
Satellite and radar composite from Friday morning showing Tropical Depression #22 moving slowly to the north-northeast. The system is forecast to become Tropical Storm Alpha later today. (Source: WAFB)
10 a.m. Friday advisory and forecast track for Tropical Depression #22. The system is forecast to meander near the Texas coast well into next week.
10 a.m. Friday advisory and forecast track for Tropical Depression #22. The system is forecast to meander near the Texas coast well into next week. (Source: WAFB)

Tropical Depression #22 remains somewhat poorly organized as of Friday morning, with some wind shear keeping most of the t-storm activity north and northeast of the center. The Hurricane Hunters were en route to investigate this morning but had to turn around after lightning struck their aircraft and knocked out the radar. Fortunately, everyone on board is safe. But that means we won’t have an update from inside the storm until another flight gets out there later today.

What we know is that T.D. #22 (future Beta) will move generally to the north-northeast through today before turning slowly westward over the weekend as high pressure builds to its north. It will then likely meander for several days, with a landfall in south Texas or northern Mexico not out of the question. But if it remains offshore or intact after a brief landfall, it may eventually turn more north and northeast next week, increasing the threat for at least some impacts in Louisiana.

Heavy rain is a certainty, with the current outlook keeping the heaviest rains mostly over the Gulf of Mexico. However, it wouldn’t take much of a deviation in the track to bring some of those very heavy rains ashore, especially along coastal Texas. As it stands, 2.5″-5″ of rain is forecast into metro Baton Rouge over the next 7 days, with totals of 5″-7″ along our coast. Those will be highly dependent on the eventual track of T.D. #22 (future Beta) into next week.

Forecast rainfall from NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center (WPC) for the next 7 days. The outlook suggests 10”-20”+ of rain is possible just offshore of Texas and Louisiana.
Forecast rainfall from NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center (WPC) for the next 7 days. The outlook suggests 10”-20”+ of rain is possible just offshore of Texas and Louisiana. (Source: WAFB)
Zoomed in view of the WPC rainfall outlook. The forecast suggests 2.5” to 5” of rain locally over the next 7 days, with higher amounts along the coast.
Zoomed in view of the WPC rainfall outlook. The forecast suggests 2.5” to 5” of rain locally over the next 7 days, with higher amounts along the coast. (Source: WAFB)

Why am I referring to the Gulf system as ‘future Beta’ and not ‘future Wilfred’ or ‘future Alpha’? Well, a disturbance in the eastern Atlantic beat T.D. #22 to the punch this morning, getting the upgrade to Wilfred at 10 a.m. That means for only the second time on record we have used the entire list of Atlantic storm names and will be moving on to the Greek alphabet for the remainder of the season.

And around 11:45 a.m., Alpha formed along the coast of Portugal.

Initial advisory as of 10 a.m. Friday for newly-formed Tropical Storm Wilfred in the eastern Atlantic. Wilfred is not expected to post any significant threat to land.
Initial advisory as of 10 a.m. Friday for newly-formed Tropical Storm Wilfred in the eastern Atlantic. Wilfred is not expected to post any significant threat to land. (Source: WAFB)
Alpha has formed off the coast of Portugal.
Alpha has formed off the coast of Portugal. (Source: WAFB)

In the interim, a cold front has slipped to our south and we’ll see a nice taste of fall this weekend and continuing into much of next week. Low temperatures will reach the 60s this weekend and highs may only top out in the 70s by Sunday! While cooler temperatures will abound, it’s worth noting that we’re likely in for a run of gray days as moisture from our tropical system in the Gulf gets pushed up and over the stalled front along our coast. In fact, we may not see much sunshine until the end of next week.

WAFB Storm Team 10-day forecast as of Friday morning, Sept. 18.
WAFB Storm Team 10-day forecast as of Friday morning, Sept. 18. (Source: WAFB)

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