Potential Tropical Cyclone #3 to bring heavy rain, gusty winds to Gulf Coast
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It’s a mouthful but the NHC has deemed the clouds in the Gulf of Mexico: Potential Tropical Cyclone #3. This is a special designation that means the National Hurricane Center has the highest confidence a tropical depression or storm is forming and this designation allows for the issuance of watches and warnings, and regular advisories/cone forecast tracks. It is currently forecast to make landfall in South Louisiana as Tropical Storm Claudette early Saturday morning.
Another notable change in our guidance over the last 24 hours is a trend toward a quicker arrival of rain and squalls. Look for outer bands of rainfall to begin impacting the area on Friday, with the intensity likely to increase by Friday night. Squalls will produce gusty winds that will be capable of taking down a few tree limbs and sporadic power outages can’t be ruled out as a result.
Rainfall will become widespread Friday night into Saturday morning as the system approaches the Louisiana coastline. With an early Saturday landfall seeming most likely, don’t be surprised to see ‘Potential Tropical Cyclone’ advisories initiated at some point today. A ‘potential tropical cyclone’ is an area of disturbed weather with a good chance of development that hasn’t quite met the criteria to be upgraded to a tropical depression or storm. Most importantly, that designation allows for the issuance of tropical watches and warnings, something else that is likely to occur for portions of the northern Gulf Coast today.
As the low lifts inland on Saturday, it is expected to be rather lopsided, with most of the heavy rain east of the center. So the track will be key in determining which areas receive the heaviest rainfall, but it does look as though rains could let up a bit by Saturday evening. As it heads farther inland, lingering moisture on its backside will result in elevated rain chances continuing into Sunday, but the heavy rain threat should be lower.
A modest eastward shift in our track guidance over the last 24 hours now means that the greatest threat for heavy rainfall will likely be a little east of metro Baton Rouge. NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center now shows average rain totals of 2″-4″ for much of our area, with 4″-7″ forecast in a line that extends roughly from Bogalusa through Hammond to Houma and eastward. WPC also has a level 2/4 (slight) risk of flooding for all of our area from Friday into Saturday morning, with a level 3/4 (moderate) risk posted to our east on Saturday.
Wind, Other Impacts
Wind impacts will be low, but not completely insignificant. Tropical storm force wind gusts will be possible from Friday afternoon into Saturday as squalls rotate ashore. Guidance indicates some potential for gusts in the 50-60 mph range, mainly east and southeast of metro Baton Rouge. With that in mind, sporadic power outages will be possible, but nothing major is expected at this point.
The winds associated with the approach and landfall of the system could also lead to some coastal flooding. Coastal flood advisories and/or warnings will likely be needed at some point.
Finally, as with any landfalling tropical system, a few tornadoes can’t be ruled out. The Storm Prediction Center has parts of SE Louisiana under a level 1/5 (marginal) risk of severe weather on both Friday and Saturday.
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