October 18, 2011

Low Pressure in Gulf of Mexico Remains Disorganized

Visible satellite imagery on Tuesday morning continues to show a low-level center of circulation near a broad low pressure area located over the central Gulf of Mexico.

The system has taken a more easterly track, and this should continue today before it turns more northeasterly tonight and tomorrow.

Satellite images also show that showers and thunderstorms associated with the system remain well removed from the low-level center of circulation.

While an earlier Air Force reconnaissance mission found winds of tropical storm force at the surface, they were located over 200 miles to the northeast of the low-level center.

Additionally, recent surface observations also indicate tropical storm-force winds away from the center, over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. Winds closer to the center remain well below tropical storm strength.

There remains a small window in which this system could organize into a tropical storm should the wind shear aloft weaken.

However, recent satellite imagery continues to indicate strong wind shear, and the time is running out for the storm to develop.

Entering this afternoon, stronger wind shear will develop over the storm, preventing further tropical development.

However, even if this storm does not become an organized tropical system, winds of 20-40 mph can still be expected over the coastal areas of Florida and the Keys with gusts to near 50 mph through tonight.

This system will most likely track to the northeast before merging with a cold front that is moving into the Gulf of Mexico today and reach northern Florida by tonight. From there, we expect the storm to move along the Southeast, then mid-Atlantic coast of the United States during Wednesday.

During this time, the storm will merge with the eastward moving cold front. Computer forecasts are suggesting that this storm could continue to wrap up as a non-tropical storm and bring gale-force winds to coastal areas of the U.S. tonight through Wednesday night.

Some model output is suggesting winds could be almost hurricane force out over the open waters off the Southeast coast on Wednesday.

Regardless of what form this storm takes, Florida will be impacted by this system into Wednesday with locally heavy rainfall and some gusty winds.

The Florida Keys have already been inundated with over 10 inches of rainfall and over the next few days this deep tropical moisture will continue to be drawn northward and eastward across the Florida Peninsula.

Between now and Wednesday, much of the Florida Peninsula should receive an additional 1 to 3 inches of rain with locally 6 inches possible.

The cold front and storm will bring moderate to heavy rainfall and even some localized flooding into parts of the southeastern United States from Alabama eastward into the Carolinas at first, then farther north into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states by Wednesday night and Thursday.

A tropical wave located well east of the Windward Islands has a large but very disorganized area of clouds associated with it that are producing a few showers and thunderstorms.

Development over the next day or two is unlikely as it will be tracking into an area of strong upper-level winds aloft.

If the shear relaxes later this week the system could become better organized.

By AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski
Updated By AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis

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