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Tropical Storm Barry Strengthens South of Louisiana

Tropical Storm Barry strengthened south of Louisiana on Friday morning.  Hurricane Hunters flying into Barry found that the maximum sustained wind speed had increased to 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h).  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Friday the center of Tropical Storm Barry was located at latitude 28.2°N and longitude 90.4°W which put it about 115 miles (185 km) south-southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana.  Barry was moving toward the west-northwest at 5 m.p.h. (8 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 998 mb.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from Intracoastal City to Grand Isle, Louisiana. Hurricane Watches have been issued for the portions of the coast from the Mouth of the Mississippi River to Grand Isle, Louisiana and from Intracoastal City to Cameron, Louisiana. Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for the portions of the coast from the Mouth of the Pearl River to Grand Isle, Louisiana and from Intracoastal City to Cameron, Louisiana. A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the portion of the coast from the Mouth of the Pearl River to the Mississippi/Alabama border. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and New Orleans.

The circulation around Tropical Storm Barry exhibited greater organization on Friday morning.  Thunderstorms developed in a band around the southern side of the center of circulation.  More thunderstorms also formed in bands that stretched around the western, southern and eastern sides of the circulation.  Bands in the northern portion of the circulation consisted primarily of showers and lower clouds, although there were some thunderstorms in the parts of those bands over land.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 170 miles (280 km) from the center of circulation.  Storms just south of the center were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the west of Tropical Storm Barry.  The removal of mass allowed the surface pressure to decrease and it was down to 998 mb on Friday morning.

Tropical Storm Barry will move through an environment that is some what favorable for intensification.  Barry will move south of a narrow upper level ridge that stretches from east Texas to south Alabama.  The ridge will produce northeasterly winds which will cause some vertical wind shear.  The shear is one of the reasons why there are fewer thunderstorms in the northern part of the circulation.  Reconnaissance aircraft reported that the middle level center was a little to the south of the surface center.  The tilt of the circulation with height is also the result of the vertical wind shear.  However, the shear will not be strong enough to prevent intensification.  Tropical Storm Barry will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30.5°C.  It will extract a lot of energy from the Gulf of Mexico.  Tropical Storm Barry is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane during the next 24 hours.

Tropical Storm Barry is moving around the southwestern part of a ridge of high pressure over the southeastern U.S.  The ridge will steer Barry slowly toward the west-northwest during the next few hours.  Barry will turn more toward the northwest later on Friday.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Storm Barry will approach the coast of Louisiana late Friday night.  Barry is forecast to be a hurricane when it reaches the coast.  The broad circulation will cause mostly minor wind damage over a large area.  There could be widespread power outages.  Barry will also generate a storm surge of 6 to 9 feet (2 to 3 meters near where the center makes landfall.  Tropical Storm Barry will drop heavy rain when it moves slowly inland.  Flooding is a serious risk, since soils are nearly saturated and many creeks and rivers are already high.

Tropical Storm Barry Threatens Louisiana

Tropical Storm Barry threatened Louisiana on Thursday.  A low pressure system formerly designated at Potential Tropical Cyclone Two strengthened into Tropical Storm Barry on Thursday morning.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Tropical Storm Barry was located at latitude 27.8°N and longitude 88.7°W which put it about 95 miles (150 km) south-southeast of the Mouth of the Mississippi River and about 200 miles (320 km) southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana.  Barry was moving toward the west at 5 m.p.h. (8 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 1005 mb.

A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the portion of the coast from the Mouth of the Mississippi River to Cameron, Louisiana.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from the Mouth of the Pearl River to Morgan City, Louisiana.  A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the portion of the coast from the Mouth of the Pearl River to the Mississippi/Alabama border.  A Tropical Storm Watch has also been issued for Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and New Orleans.

The circulation around Tropical Storm Barry exhibited more organization on Thursday morning, but there were not a lot of thunderstorms near the center of circulation.  Many of the thunderstorms were occurring in bands wrapping around the western and southern sides of the circulation.  Bands in the northern half of the circulation consisted primarily of showers and lower clouds.  Winds to tropical storm force were occurring in the southeastern part of Tropical Storm Barry.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 100 miles (160 km) from the center in that quadrant of Barry.  The winds were weaker in other quadrants of the circulation.

Tropical Storm Barry will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 36 hours.  Barry will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30.5°C.  It will move through a region where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Tropical Storm Barry will intensify slowly until more thunderstorms form near the center of circulation.  If thunderstorms consolidate around an inner core, then rapid intensification would be possible.  Tropical Storm Barry is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane on Friday.

Tropical Storm Barry will move around the southwestern part of a ridge of high pressure over the southeastern U.S.  The ridge is likely to steer Barry slowly toward the west during the next 12 to 24 hours.  Tropical Storm Barry will move more toward the northwest when it moves around the southwestern part of the ridge.  There is still some uncertainty about the timing and location of the turn toward the northwest.  Based on its anticipated track Tropical Storm Barry could approach the coast of Louisiana on Friday night.

Tropical Storm Barry is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane before it makes landfall.  It will bring strong, gusty winds to coastal regions of Louisiana.  Those winds will also push a storm surge toward the coast.  The storm surge could be up to 6 to 8 feet (2 to 3 meters) near where the center makes landfall.  Tropical Storm Barry could drop heavy rain when it moves inland.  Many rivers and streams are already high and locally heavy rain could cause flooding in those locations.

NHC Initiates Advisories on Potential Tropical Cyclone Two

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) initiated advisories on Potential Tropical Cyclone Two on Wednesday morning.  NHC initiated the advisories in order to be able to issue watches for a portion of the coast of Louisiana.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Potential Tropical Cyclone Two was located at latitude 28.5°N and longitude 86.4°W which put it about 170 miles (270 km) east-southeast of the Mouth of the Mississippi River.  It was moving toward the west-southwest at 8 m.p.h. (13 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 30 m.p.h. (50 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1011 mb.  A Tropical Storm Watch was issued for the portion of the coast from the Mouth of the Mississippi River to Morgan City, Louisiana.

The circulation around Potential Tropical Cyclone Two was not well organized.  There was a large, but relatively weak circulation near the surface.  There was not a well defined center of circulation near the surface.  There was a stronger counterclockwise circulation between about 10,000 feet (3000 meters) and 25,000 feet (7600 meters) above the surface, which was located above the southwestern part of the surface circulation.  Many of the stronger thunderstorms were occurring in bands on the northern and western sides of the circulation above the surface.  There were fewer thunderstorms in the eastern side of the larger, surface circulation.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Two will move through an environment very favorable for development and intensification.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  The system will move through a region where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  It is likely that a center of circulation will form at the surface underneath the counterclockwise circulation above the surface.  Potential Tropical Cyclone Two will strengthen slowly until the surface center is underneath the center higher in the atmosphere.  After the circulation becomes aligned vertically, the system could strengthen more rapidly.  Potential Tropical Cyclone Two is likely to become a hurricane within 48 to 60 hours.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Two will move south of a ridge over the southeastern U.S.  The ridge will steer Potential Tropical Cyclone Two toward the southwest.  It will move more toward the west on Thursday and then turn back more toward the northwest on Friday when it nears the western end of the ridge.  There will be significant uncertainty about the future track of the system until a well defined center of circulation forms at the surface.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Cyclone Two could approach the coast of Louisiana and northeast Texas on Friday.  Hurricane Watches and Warnings are likely to be issued for portions of the coast later this week.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Two presents a wide range of hazards.  It will bring hurricane force winds to portions of Louisiana and Texas and it will disrupt operations of offshore facilities in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.  After the center of the system moves west of New Orleans, southerly winds will force water into the Mouth of the Mississippi River.  The level of the Mississippi River around New Orleans is already near flood stage and any additional rise in the water level could cause serious flooding around the city.  If Potential Tropical Cyclone Two strengthens into a hurricane, as expected, it will cause a significant storm near where the center makes landfall.  The system also has the potential to drop heavy rain and flooding could occur when it moves inland.

Potential Tropical Development Over Northern Gulf of Mexico

The potential exists for the development of a tropical cyclone over the northern Gulf of Mexico this week.  A low pressure system was over Georgia on Monday afternoon.  The low was drifting slowly southward, but it was forecast to move more toward the south-southwest during the next two days.  Several numerical models were predicting that the low pressure system would strengthen into a tropical depression or a tropical storm after it moves over the northern Gulf of Mexico later this week.  The National Hurricane Center was indicating that the low pressure system, currently designated as Invest 92L, had a 30% probability of developing into a tropical cyclone during the next two days and an 80% probability of developing into a tropical cyclone during the next five days.

The low pressure system exhibited a surface circulation on Monday afternoon, but the wind speed was near 15 m.p.h. (25 km/h).  Bands of showers and thunderstorms formed during the daytime heating over land, but they weakened at night.  There was also a counterclockwise rotation in the lower and middle troposphere which may have been the remnants of a mesoscale convective vortex (MCV), which developed over the Middle Mississippi River Valley a few days ago.  The low was not generating upper level divergence on Monday afternoon.

If the low pressure system does move over the northern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday or Wednesday, it will move into an environment more favorable for the development of a tropical depression.  The Sea Surface Temperature of the water in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico is near 30°C.  The low pressure system will move southeast of an upper level ridge over the southern U.S.  The ridge will produce northeasterly winds, but the winds will be relatively weak and the vertical wind shear will not be too strong.  More thunderstorms are likely to develop when the low pressure system moves over the warm water.  If those thunderstorms generate upper level divergence that pumps mass away, then the surface pressure will decrease and a tropical depression will form.

The upper level ridge is forecast to steer the low pressure system toward the west after it moves over the Gulf of Mexico later this week.  On its anticipated track the low pressure system will move slowly toward the coast of Louisiana and Texas.  The future intensity of the system will be determined by how far the system moves into the Gulf of Mexico.  If the low pressure system takes a track along or near the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico, then it will likely become a tropical depression or a weak tropical storm.  Even if the low only strengthens into a tropical depression, it could drop heavy rain and the potential for flooding exists along the northern Gulf Coast.  If the low pressure system moves farther out into the Gulf of Mexico and remains over warm water for a longer period, then it might intensify into a hurricane.  Residents along the Gulf Coast should monitor this system carefully.

Tropical Storm Harvey’s Record Rains Continue Over Texas and Louisiana

The record setting rainfall from Tropical Storm Harvey continued over southeastern Texas and Louisiana on Tuesday morning.  A rain gauge southeast of Houston near Mary’s Creek at Winding Road has measured 49.20 inches (125 cm) of rain from Tropical Storm Harvey as of 9:00 a.m. CDT on Tuesday.  This total sets a new record for the most rainfall from a tropical cyclone over the contiguous 48 states of the U.S.  The previous record was 48 inches (122 cm) dropped by Tropical Cyclone Amelia in 1978 over Medina, Texas.

At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Tropical Storm Harvey was located at latitude 28.4°N and longitude 94.3°W which put it about 115 miles (185 km) south-southwest of Cameron, Louisiana.  Harvey was moving toward the north-northeast at 5 m.p.h. (8 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 997 mb.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from Port O’Connor, Texas to Morgan City, Louisiana.  A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the portion of the coast from Morgan City to Grand Isle, Louisiana.

The center of Tropical Storm Harvey moved back over the Gulf of Mexico late on Monday and it is currently over the northwestern Gulf.  Harvey is still producing heavy rain over southeastern Texas and parts of Louisiana.  There is still a well defined center and strong counterclockwise rotation in the lower levels of the atmosphere.  Dry air wrapped around the circulation of Harvey and there are mainly lighter showers near the center of the tropical storm.  There are several stronger bands of thunderstorms on the eastern periphery of the circulation.  Those bands are dropping heavier rain over eastern Louisiana and parts of Mississippi.  The strong counterclockwise rotation is transporting moist air over land.  Increased friction over the land is causing more convergence which is pushing the air upwards.  Stronger rising motion is generating areas of heavier rain over southeast Texas and southern Louisiana.  In addition, the land is warming during the day, which is making the lower atmosphere more unstable and contributing to the heaver rain.

Flood Watches and Warnings are in effect from Northwest Florida to Southeast Texas because of the potential for more heavy rain.  Tropical Storm Harvey is finally starting to move slowly toward the north-northeast.  It should make a landfall on the coast of Louisiana early on Wednesday.  Tropical Storm Harvey will weaken as it moves farther inland and it should move over the Lower Mississippi River Valley as a tropical depression late this week.  The rain over southeastern Texas and southern Louisiana should end once Harvey moves farther inland.

Elsewhere, a low pressure system designated Potential Tropical Cyclone Ten was bringing gusty winds and higher waves to portions of the Mid-Atlantic coast.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Potential Tropical Cyclone Ten was located at latitude 34.4°N and longitude 77.2°W which put it about 35 miles (60 km) west-southwest of Cape Lookout, North Carolina.  It was moving toward the northeast at 17 m.p.h. (28 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1006 mb.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect from Cape Lookout to Duck, North Carolina including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.  Potential Tropical Cyclone Ten is forecast to merge with a front and become a strong extratropical cyclone over the western Atlantic Ocean.

Slow Moving Tropical Storm Harvey Causing Record Flooding in Texas

Slow moving Tropical Storm Harvey was causing record flooding in Houston and other places in southeast Texas.  At 2:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Tropical Storm Harvey was located at latitude 29.0°N and longitude 97.2°W which put it about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Victoria, Texas.  Harvey was moving toward the southeast at 2 m.p.h. (3 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 was in effect for the portion of the coast from Port O’Connor to Sargent, Texas.

The center of Tropical Storm Harvey is drifting back toward the Gulf of Mexico.  A significant portion of the eastern side of Harvey is over water and the strongest winds are occurring in rainbands over the Gulf of Mexico.  Those winds are the reason Harvey is still a tropical storm and why there is still a tropical storm warning for a portion of the coast.  The circulation around Harvey is circulating over the water and it is transporting large amounts of moisture over southeast Texas.  Strong convergence into the center of Harvey is lifting the air and it is producing prolonged periods of heavy rain when rainbands move inland.

The extremely heavy rain in Harvey is causing record flooding in parts of Houston and other locations in southeastern Texas.  The Buffalo Bayou is currently at 67.46 feet (20.56 m).  The previous record water level was 61.2 feet (18.65 m).

The slow movement of Tropical Storm Harvey is exacerbating the flooding.  The winds are the steering level are weak and Harvey is now drifting back toward the southeast.  Harvey is drifting back over places it moved over on Saturday.  The center of Tropical Storm Harvey could drift back over the Gulf of Mexico.  If the center of Harvey moves back out over water, it would likely maintain its intensity.  Tropical Storm Harvey is forecast to continue to drop heavy rain over southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana during the next several days.