Hurricane season is not finished by any stretch. There’s a reason the season runs through November. Warm sea surface temperatures help generate organized showers and thunderstorms, and another system can develop until the basins start cooling, and upper-level wind shear picks up.
Our newest, and most important storm at the moment sits in the Western Caribbean as a tropical depression named “Fourteen”. Sustained winds are still running in the 30-35 mph range and gusts are getting as high as 45 mph. Minimum central pressure has fallen to 1004 millibars and the movement is NNW at a very slow pace. Within the evening of Sunday, Fourteen will become a tropical storm and garner the name “Michael.”
The projected path of the storm will take it on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula. Once the storm enters the Gulf of Mexico it will have about 600 miles of warm sea surface “real estate” to work with. The entire Gulf is sitting between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above 80 degrees helps to develop tropical systems.
Due to the necessary ingredients, it’s possible Fourteen (Michael) will have a chance to develop into at least a Category 1 hurricane before making a landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast. Current projections and long-range models are hinting at a northeasterly turn in the Central Gulf that will take the storm somewhere near the Big Bend of Florida. This path can change as we’re still three to four days out from landfall.
Once the storm moves onshore, it will continue to be pushed by the strong cold front that will bring us the big cool down at the end of the week. That cold front will slide the system northeast and into the Coastal Carolinas, bringing more rain to areas that don’t need it.
Rainfall amounts are still getting ironed out, but near the core of the system isolated amounts could reach as high as 10″ to 15”+. On top of that, wind will cause major issues like structural damage and life-threatening storm surge.
This will be a system to keep tabs on over the next few days.
-Meteorologist Seth Phillips