Last Modified: Monday, July 02, 2012 11:44 AM
A low pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico could strengthen into a tropical system over the weekend and bears monitoring, although the likely strength and path of the storm is still unclear.
The National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center issued a report at 1 p.m. stating the system had a 70 percent chance to develop into a tropical cyclone within 48 hours. Those odds were increased to 80 percent on the 7 p.m. update.
Johnathan Brazzell, National Weather Service meteorologist, said most models show the system moving north into the central Gulf of Mexico over the weekend, then being pushed west or southwest across the gulf. Most models have the storm remaining well south of the Southwest Louisiana coast as it moves west.
“What the models are showing is that the system will likely move up into the central Gulf over the weekend, then gradually sit there,” Brazzell said. “That is the case for whatever develops, we are not even sure what it is going to be yet. Then early next week, a big ridge of high pressure will develop over the southern U.S. and should move the system to the west. That is what we are currently thinking and what most models are showing. There is another possibility is that it could get picked up by a low pressure trough and move east. From what it looks like now, the models are predicting that the ridge will strengthen sooner than anticipated which will force the system west. Right now we are not calling for any tropical force winds along the coast, but we could seen an increase in wives and tides. Right at the shore, we are looking at waves of about three to four feet. Right now we have the center of the low passing about 150-200 miles south of the coast as it moves west.”
Brazzell said residents should keep an eye on the situation as it develops over the next few days.
“The entire Gulf coast should monitor the system and keep up with the updates every six hours. New updates are issued at 7 and 1.”
Dick Gremillion, Calcasieu Parish Director of Emergency Preparedness, said his office and the Cameron OEP have had preliminary talks and are keeping a close eye on the system.
“This is a good reminder that this is the time of year we should be getting prepared for hurricanes,” Gremillion said. “This one, there is no consensus on where it will go. The good news is that whatever it does, it will not happen quickly. The biggest concern now is the possibility of higher tides, so people in areas susceptible to tidal changes should keep a close eye on the system. Even if it does not come close, it could cause high tides. We are monitoring it and have been in touch with Cameron: They are doing the same things. We have had conference calls. People should keep an eye on the weather over the weekend to make sure that nothing funny happens. Right now it looks like we will be OK, but if it starts moving this way, we will start operations and letting people know what they need to do.”