This NOAA satellite image taken Saturday shows shower and thunderstorm activity developing around an area of low pressure spinning in the Gulf of Mexico. Tropical Storm Debby has formed in the Gulf of Mexico and forecasters say it will bring rain to the Gulf coast from Southern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Monday, July 02, 2012 11:54 AM
Tropical Storm Debby formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday. Its maximum sustained winds as of 10 p.m. were 50 miles per hour.
Debby, which became a named storm at about 4 p.m. Saturday, skipped the tropical depression designation because of its sustained-wind strength.
Joe Rua, a meterologist at the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, said Saturday it was uncertain which direction the storm will take next.
“There is still a little bit of a difference, still two possible scenarios,” he said. “The one that is starting to look less likely has it getting caught up in an upper level trough that would take it east towards Florida. The scenario that is gaining more confidence has an upper-level ridge over the central U.S. strengthening, which would force Debby west towards south Texas.”
Rua said forecasts showed Debby is unlikely to make landfall near Southwest Louisiana or develop into a hurricane.
He said that as of the 4 p.m. Saturday forecast, the storm’s track would put it about 150 miles south of Cameron by Wednesday afternoon, which would be the closest it would get to Southwest Louisiana.
“Right now the official forecast has it just below hurricane level throughout, but there is always a chance it could strengthen,” Rua said. “It is really hard to say now while it is still in a formative stage.”
A tropical storm warning was issued for part of the southeast Louisiana coast. Officials there have been monitoring the weather closely for the last several days. Some low-lying areas close to the coast flood easily in rough weather.
“The reason they issued the warning is there could be tropical storm winds and tidal increases there by late Sunday,” Rua said. “There have been no advisories issued for the Southwest Louisiana area. The Hurricane Center model keeps it far enough south that there might not be any tropical effects in this area.”
However, Southwest Louisiana is included in projected path “error cone,” meaning there is still some chance the storm could affect the area.
“Right now, that cone is very large since there is still a lot of uncertainty,” Rau said. “As things progress, that cone will start to get smaller. Obviously, since we are in the error cone, residents will want to keep on monitoring the storm and paying attention to the advisories that are put out. ... Right now we are still in wait-and-see mode.”