The area of tropical moisture being monitored in the western Caribbean could develop to bring flooding rain to the Southeast by the end of the week. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Erin has formed over the eastern Atlantic.
Tropical development in the Caribbean and Gulf has been a concern since early this week, with numerous scenarios still in play. However, meteorologists continue to have more confidence due to the moisture from the storm shifting into the Gulf of Mexico and towards the United States.
Once the system moves into the Gulf Thursday night and Friday, it will also be in a rather favorable environment for development.
Through the end of the week, water temperatures are expected to stay just slightly above average for this time of year. The strong opposing winds that tend to shred storms have also weakened.
However, it is still questionable if the storm will have enough time to officially develop into a tropical depression or storm.
AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski noted Tuesday morning that the broad area of low pressure has not yet shown signs of strengthening.
“This suggests there is no sign that a low-level feature is forming yet,” Kottlowski said, and a low-level feature is necessary for a disturbance to strengthen.
There will only be a day or two in which this lower-level feature could form before the system moves inland. Without the warm, tropical water after landfall, the storm will not be able to strengthen.
Whether the system is officially named or not, tropical moisture is expected to surge into the Southeast for the end of the week. This will bring the potential for heavy rain that could stall over the area for a few days.
The tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico will be dragged up into the Southeast for the weekend, posing the threat for more flooding.
Although there are still multiple plausible paths this disturbance could take, a path into the central U.S. Gulf Coast appears to be the most likely route. This puts locations between central Louisiana east to the Florida Panhandle most at risk.
With a very wet summer thus far, even just a little rain could cause isolated flooding problems. However, with the increasing likelihood of more rain with this tropical system, flooding will be a huge risk, especially along the Gulf coast and into the southern Appalachians.
There could also be some gusty winds along the coastlines as the disturbance moves closer to land, as well as some minor storm surge.
In addition to keeping an eye on the southern Gulf of Mexico, Tropical Storm Erin has formed in the eastern Atlantic. Erin is the fifth named tropical storm in the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
The above graphic is a satellite picture of Erin as it became a tropical storm early Thursday morning.
The storm will not have any immediate impacts on the United States as it is currently more than 2,000 miles away from the country. However, it should still be monitored as it is expected to track west-northwestward over the next several days.
Conditions are quickly becoming more favorable in the Atlantic for development, which is typical for mid- to late August.
Over the past week, the strong, opposing wind shear has weakened across the tropics. Furthermore, the dry, Saharan air off the African coast has begun to dissipate.
The disintegration of these factors will lead to an uptick of storms in the Atlantic Basin in the coming weeks.