Potential Tropical Cyclone Three Prompts Warnings and Watches for Louisiana and Texas

An area of low pressure designated Potential Tropical Cyclone Three moved into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday and the National Hurricane Center issued Tropical Storm Warnings and Watches for Louisiana and Texas.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Monday the center of Potential Tropical Cyclone Three was located at latitude 24.4°N and longitude 89.5°W which put it about 380 miles (610 km) south-southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana.  It was moving toward the north-northwest at 8 m.p.h. (13 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1000 mb

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from Intracoastal City, Louisiana to the mouth of the Pearl River.  A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the portion of the coast from High Island, Texas to Intracoastal City, Louisiana.

The circulation of Potential Tropical Cyclone 03 is not very well organized.  The system does have a well defined low level center of circulation.  However, there are no thunderstorms near the low level center.  All of the strong showers and thunderstorms are occurring in bands well to the east of the center of circulation.  Some of those bands do contain winds to tropical storm force.  An upper level low over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico is producing strong southwesterly winds which are blowing over the top of the low level center.  The strong vertical wind shear created by those winds is preventing the development of storms closer to the low level center.

The environment around Potential Tropical Cyclone 03 will remain unfavorable for intensification on Tuesday.  The system will move move water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  So, there will be enough energy to support intensification.  However, the upper level low will continue to produce strong vertical wind shear over the low level center of circulation.  The upper low is forecast to move slowly toward the northwest.  It is possible that the strength of the upper level winds over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico could diminish in a day or two.  If the shear decreases, thunderstorms could form closer to the center and if the structure of the system takes on a more tropical appearance, it could be designated Tropical Storm Cindy.

Potential Tropical Cyclone 03 is moving around the western end of the subtropical high over the Atlantic Ocean.  The high is steering the system toward the north-northwest and that general motion is expected to continue.  On its anticipated track Potential Tropical Cyclone 03 is expected to approach the coast of Louisiana in about 48 hours.  The steering winds could weaken when the system gets closer to the coast and the uncertainty about the future track increases after about 48 hours.

Strong southerly flow on the eastern side of Potential Tropical Cyclone 03 will bring very humid air over the southeastern U.S.  The biggest risk is likely to be heavy rain and the potential for floods.  The system will also bring gusty winds and some storm surge to parts of the coast.