Tropical threat may bring downpours

Published 4:05 am Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A tropical disturbance across the southwest Gulf of Mexico is being monitored for possible tropical cyclone development, according to a report from the Calcasieu Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

“It’s likely headed to Mexico with no hit on Louisiana,” said Roger Erickson, U.S. National Weather Service Lake Charles meteorologist.

He does expect the system in the Bay of Campeche to become a tropical depression or storm within the next 24-48 hours based on observations and weather models.

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A tropical storm means there is a closed low-pressure area with sustained winds of around 39 miles per hour. If winds are less than 39 mph, that’s a depression, Erickson explained.

“We’re predicting one to five inches of rain, with the higher totals being closer to the coast,” he said.

The CPPJ OHSEP key messages includes a coastal flood watch issued today through Wednesday night, a long duration of easterly winds to increase along the coast and the possibility of a Flood Watch to be issued later today for heavy rainfall expected today through Wednesday night.

He’s not expecting tornadoes to be a threat in Southwest Louisiana within this system. Flooding could be.

“We just issued a Flood Watch for Jefferson, Orange and Hardin Counties,” Erickson said on Monday afternoon, “nothing for Southwest Louisiana so far.”

The U.S. Air Force’s Hurricane Hunters Monday flight out over the southern Gulf of Mexico to investigate the disturbance is no cause to raise the alarm, according to Ericson.  “They investigate tropical systems, go when there is a threat to land, whether that is the U.S., Mexico or any of the islands of the Caribbean.

Hurricanes start out as a ‘tropical disturbance’ when water vapor from the warm ocean in the tropics or subtropics condenses to form clouds. This is when you first see the pattern of wind circulating around a center. Winds above 74 mph are categorized as a hurricane, but it is important to prepare for a tropical storm because of heavy rainfall and possible flooding.