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Subtropical Storm Alberto Strengthens on Its Way to Northwest Florida

Subtropical Storm Alberto strengthened on Sunday as it moved closer to northwest Florida.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Subtropical Storm Alberto was located at latitude 28.5°N and longitude 85.8°W which put it about 95 miles (155 km) south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida.  Alberto was moving toward the northwest at 9 m.p.h. (15 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h) and the were wind gusts to 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 991 mb.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Suwannee River, Florida to the border between Alabama and Mississippi.

The circulation of Subtropical Storm Alberto became more organized on Sunday.  A band of showers and thunderstorms wrapped around the center of circulation.  A band of drier air wrapped around the circulation just outside the rainband.  The band of drier air kept the circulation from developing a completely tropical structure and the National Hurricane Center continued to classify Alberto as a subtropical storm.  Alberto moved closer to the center of an upper level low over the Gulf of Mexico.  The upper level winds were weaker near the center of the low and the vertical wind shear decreased.  An upper level ridge over the Florida peninsula enhanced upper level divergence to the east of Alberto and the surface pressure decreases on Sunday.

Subtropical Storm Alberto will move through an environment somewhat favorable for intensification on Monday.  Alberto will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  The upper level low will continue to produce some vertical wind shear.  The band of drier air will limit the development of thunderstorms outside the primary rainband.  Some intensification is possible during the next 12 hours, but the wind shear and drier air should limit any strengthening.

The upper low and the ridge over Florida will steer Subtropical Storm Alberto slowly toward the northwest.  On its anticipated track the center of Subtropical Storm Alberto is expected to make landfall over northwest Florida on Monday.  Alberto will be capable of causing minor wind damage.  Wind blowing water toward the coast will produce a storm surge of up to 4 to 7 feet (1.3 to 2.3 meters).  Alberto will drop heavy rain over parts of the southeastern U.S. and flooding could occur in some locations.

Subtropical Storm Alberto Moves Into the Gulf of Mexico

Subtropical Storm Alberto moved over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Saturday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Subtropical Storm Alberto was located at latitude 23.9°N and longitude 84.6°W which put it about 120 miles (195 km) west-southwest of the Dry Tortugas.  Alberto was moving toward the north-northeast at 13 m.p.h. (20 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 1001 mb.

Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the Dry Tortugas and the portions of the coast from Bonita Beach to Anclote River and from the Aucilla River to the border between Alabama and Mississippi.  A Tropical Storm Watch was in effect from the border between Alabama and Mississippi to the Mouth of the Pearl River.

The circulation of Subtropical Storm Alberto remained poorly organized on Saturday.  Several low level centers dissipated and new low level centers of circulation developed on the southwestern edge of an area of thunderstorms northeast of the center.  Even though the center of circulation reorganized several times, the pressure did decrease slowly during the day.  The strongest wind speeds were occurring in the area of thunderstorms northeast of the center of circulation.  The winds were weaker south and west of the center.

Subtropical Storm Alberto will move through an environment that will become more favorable for intensification during the next 48 hours.  Alberto will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  An upper level trough over the western Gulf of Mexico was producing southwesterly winds which were blowing across the top of the circulation.  Those winds were causing significant vertical wind shear which was inhibiting the intensification of Subtropical Storm Alberto.  The shear was also preventing thunderstorms from persisting near the center of circulation, which was keeping Alberto from making a transition to a tropical storm.  An upper level ridge was forming over Florida.  The ridge was starting to enhance upper level divergence to the east of Subtropical Storm Alberto.

The upper level trough will gradually evolve into a closed upper level low.  The vertical wind shear will slowly decrease during the next several days.  When the shear decreases, it will allow Subtropical Storm Alberto to strengthen.  Less vertical wind shear will also let thunderstorms persist closer to the center of circulation.  If thunderstorms persist near the center, then Alberto could exhibit the structure of a tropical cyclone and it could be designated as a tropical storm.  Subtropical Storm Alberto could intensify into a hurricane over the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The reformations of the low level center of circulation increase the uncertainty of track forecasts.  The upper level trough is likely to steer Subtropical Storm Alberto toward the north on Sunday.  Alberto could turn more toward the north-northwest when the trough changes into an upper level low.  On its anticipated track Subtropical Storm Alberto could approach the coast of the northern Gulf of Mexico within 48 hours.  Alberto could be a strong tropical storm or a hurricane at that time.

Subtropical Storm Alberto will be capable of causing minor wind damage when it makes landfall.  Alberto will drop locally heavy rain north and east of the center of circulation.  Flood Watches have been issued for several states in the southeastern U.S.  The Gulf Coast is very susceptible to storm surge.  There will be increases in the water level along the eastern and northern Gulf Coast where the winds blow water toward the shore.

Cyclone Likely to Form Over Gulf of Mexico

A cyclone is likely to form over the Gulf of Mexico during the upcoming weekend.  A broad area of low pressure at the surface is currently centered over the Yucatan Peninsula.  The area of low pressure is currently designated as Invest 90L.  The circulation around the low pressure system is not well organized at the current time.  The center of the surface low is over the Yucatan Peninsula.  Showers and lower clouds are occurring near the center of the low.  Stronger thunderstorms are occurring on the eastern side of the low over the northwestern Caribbean Sea.  Sustained winds of 20 m.p.h. to 30 m.p.h. (30 km/h to 50 km/h) were blowing across the northwestern Caribbean Sea.  The winds were weaker over land near the center of circulation.

An upper level trough over the Gulf of Mexico was producing strong westerly winds which were blowing over the top of the surface low.  Those winds were causing strong vertical wind shear and the wind shear was one of the reasons why the stronger thunderstorms were occurring east of the center of circulation.  Sinking motion in the western portion of the upper level trough was bringing drier air to the surface and the drier air was inhibiting the formation of thunderstorms in the western side of the surface low.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) indicated in a Special Tropical Weather Outlook at 2:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday that there is a 70% probability of the formation of a subtropical or tropical depression during the next 48 hours.  NHC has tentatively tasked a reconnaissance aircraft to investigate the low pressure system on Friday afternoon if necessary.

The wind speeds are slower near the axis of the upper level trough.  If the surface low pressure system moves under the axis of the upper level trough, then there would be less vertical wind shear and a cyclone could form.  If thunderstorms develop near the center of circulation after the center moves over the northwestern Caribbean Sea or southeastern Gulf of Mexico, then NHC would likely designate the system as a tropical depression.  If the thunderstorms develop farther away from the center of circulation and the circulation does not exhibit a tropical appearance, then NHC could classify the system as a subtropical depression.  NHC would issue advisories on the cyclone even if it is designated a subtropical depression.

There is a strong high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean and the high is likely to steer the surface low toward the north.  The Sea Surface Temperature of the water in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico is near 27°C.  So, there is enough energy to support the formation of a tropical cyclone.  Most of the stronger thunderstorms are likely to continue to form in the eastern side of the circulation because of the vertical wind shear and drier air to the northwest of the surface low.  The low pressure system could slowly organize into a tropical storm during the weekend.

Heavy rain and the potential for flooding are the greatest risks with this low pressure system.  There will be some storm surge along the eastern and northern coasts of the Gulf of Mexico as counterclockwise rotation around the low blows water toward the shore.

System Could Bring Heavy Rain to Southeast U.S.

A weather system over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico could bring heavy rain to the southeastern U.S. this week.  An upper level low over the eastern Gulf of Mexico could transfer enough kinetic energy down to the lower troposphere to spin up a low at the surface.  Air flowing around the eastern side of the low is contributing to upper level divergence over Florida.  The divergence enhanced rising motion over Florida and rain fell over parts of the southern and central portions of that state.

The weather system is forecast to move slowly northward during the next several days.  The Sea Surface Temperatures in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico are 24°C to 26°C.  There is enough energy in the upper levels of the water to support the formation of a tropical cyclone.  The upper level low will create southerly winds which will cause moderate vertical wind shear.  The shear will inhibit development, although those winds could contribute to upper level divergence to the east of the weather system.  Upper level divergence could allow the surface pressure to decrease and a low pressure system could form at the surface.  The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a special Tropical Weather Outlook on Sunday afternoon on the weather system.  NHC indicated the probability was 40% that a tropical or subtropical cyclone could form during the next five days.

Guidance from numerical models suggest that the weather system will move slowly northward over the eastern Gulf of Mexico during the next few days.  Counterclockwise rotation around the low will transport moist air northward on the eastern side of the low.  The moist air combined with upper level divergence will create the potential for locally heavy rainfall over the southeastern U.S.  Heavy rain could result in floods in some locations.

Hurricane Nate Brings Gusty Winds and Surge to Mississippi Coast

Hurricane Nate brought gusty winds, heavy rain and a storm surge to the coast of Mississippi on Saturday night.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Hurricane Nate was located at latitude 29.9°N and longitude 89.1°W which put it about 35 miles (60 km) south-southwest of Biloxi, Mississippi.  Nate was moving toward the north at 20 m.p.h. (32 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 85 m.p.h. (140 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 983 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from the mouth of the Pearl River to the Alabama/Florida border.  Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the mouth of the Pearl River, for New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain and for the coast from the Alabama/Florida border to Indian Pass, Florida.

Some drier air wrapped into the western side of Hurricane Nate on Saturday afternoon.  In addition an upper level trough approaching Nate from the west produced southwesterly winds which caused vertical wind shear.  The drier air and shear caused the circulation of Hurricane Nate to become asymmetrical.  The stronger winds are occurring in the eastern half of the circulation.  The winds are weaker in the western side of the hurricane.  The bands of showers and thunderstorms are also occurring in the eastern half of Hurricane Nate.  Very little rain was falling on the western side of the hurricane.

The partial eyewall north of the center of Hurricane Nate was moving over the coast of Mississippi from Pascagoula to Gulfport.  Strong gusty winds and heavy rain were falling on that section of the coast.  Winds blowing water toward the coast were pushing a storm surge onto the coast.  A water level gauge at a NOAA laboratory in Pascagoula, Mississippi was reporting a storm surge of 6.75 feet (2.06 meters).  The highest surges were occurring in Mississippi, but there were also storm surges on the coast of Alabama and Florida.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were dropping heavy rain over southeastern Mississippi, southwestern and central Alabama and northwestern Florida.  Brief tornadoes spun up in some of the thunderstorms on Saturday.

Hurricane Nate will move inland over southeastern Mississippi during the overnight hours.  Nate will weaken after it moves inland, but it will continue to bring gusty winds as it spins down.  There is a strong flow of moist air from the south and heavy rain will continue to fall east of the track of Hurricane Nate.  Places west of the track will experience weaker winds and will receive little rain.  Locations west of a line from New Orleans to Hattiesburg to Meridian,  Mississippi could see little minimal impacts from Nate.  Nate will cross over west central Alabama on Sunday morning.  It will continue to move toward the north-northeast and the remnants of Nate could reach eastern Tennessee on Sunday night.  Areas of heavy rain will fall over northwestern Florida, Alabama, northern Georgia, eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina.  Fresh water flooding could occur in some of those areas.  Tornadoes could develop in the rainbands again on Sunday afternoon.

Hurricane Nate Speeds Toward Gulf Coast

Strengthening Hurricane Nate sped toward the central Gulf Coast on Saturday.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Hurricane Nate was located at latitude 26.6°N and longitude 88.4°W which put it about 265 miles (425 km) south of Biloxi, Mississippi.  Nate was moving toward the north-northwest at 26 m.p.h. (43 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 90 m.p.h. (150 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 105 m.p.h. (165 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 984 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.  A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line and from Grand Isle to Morgan City, Louisiana.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Alabama/Florida border to Indian Pass, Florida and from Grand Isle to Morgan City.  A Tropical Storm Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Morgan City to Intracoastal City, Louisiana.

Hurricane Nate strengthened on Saturday as it moved over the warm water in the Gulf of Mexico.  An eye with a diameter of 30 miles (50 km) began to form at the center of circulation.  A ring of thunderstorms around the eye was generating strong upper level divergence which pumped mass away from Hurricane Nate.  The strongest winds were occurring in the eastern side of the circulation.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 35 miles (55 km) east of the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 120 miles (195 km) east of the center, but they only extend out about 60 miles (95 km) to the west of the center.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Nate is 13.9.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 7.7 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 21.6.

Hurricane Nate will continue to intensify during the next 12 hours until it makes landfall.  Nate will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  An upper low over the western Gulf of Mexico is producing southerly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation.  However, there are also southerly winds in the lower levels of the atmosphere and as a result, there is not much vertical wind shear.  Hurricane Nate is likely to intensify to a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale before it makes landfall.  There is a chance Hurricane Nate could intensify to Category 3 before landfall, if it continues to intensify rapidly.

The upper low and an upper level ridge east of Florida are combining to steer Hurricane Nate quickly toward the north-northwest and that motion is expected to continue for the next few hours.  An upper level trough over the Central U.S. will approach Nate on Saturday night as the hurricane nears the coast.  The trough will turn Hurricane Nate more toward the north as it reaches the coast.  The trough should steer Nate quickly toward the north-northeast after it makes landfall.  On its anticipated track the center of Hurricane Nate will pass near the mouth of the Mississippi River on Saturday evening.  The center of Nate will likely make landfall on the coast of Mississippi or near Mobile on Saturday night.

Hurricane Nate will be capable of causing regional serious damage when it makes landfall.  Nate will produce strong winds, especially in locations east of the track of the hurricane.  Nate will also be capable of producing a storm surge of 10 to 12 feet (3 to 4 meters) along the coast.  The surge will be higher in bays, inlets and mouths of rivers that funnel the water into specific areas.  Nate will also be capable of dropping heavy rain as it moves inland.

Stronger Tropical Storm Nate Speeds Toward Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Warning for New Orleans

A stronger Tropical Storm Nate sped toward the Gulf of Mexico on Friday afternoon and a Hurricane Warning was issued for the city of New Orleans.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Tropical Storm Nate was located at latitude 20.3°N and longitude 85.7°W which put it about 80 miles (125 km) east of Cozumel, Mexico and about 710 miles (1145 km) south-southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana.  Nate was moving toward the north-northwest at 21 m.p.h. (33 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 993 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.  A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle to Morgan City, Louisiana and from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line.  A Tropical Storm Watch was in effect from Morgan City to Intracoastal City, Lousiana and from the Okaloosa/Walton County line to Indian Pass, Florida.  A Hurricane Watch and a Tropical Storm Warning are in effect for the portion of the coast from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos, Mexico.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Pinar del Rio province in Cuba.  A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Isle of Youth province in Cuba.

The inner core of Tropical Storm Nate tightened up on Friday afternoon.  A primary rainband wrapped about three quarters of the way around the center of circulation.  There was an opening to the northeast of the center.  The rainband could develop into an eyewall if it wraps completely around the center of circulation.  Additional bands of showers and thunderstorms formed outside the core of Tropical Storm Nate.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 125 miles (200 km) to the east of the center of circulation.  The winds were weaker in the western half of the circulation.  Thunderstorms near the core began to generate stronger upper level divergence which was pumping out mass and the surface pressure decreased on Friday afternoon.

Tropical Storm Nate will move through an environment favorable for intensification on Saturday.  Nate will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  An upper level low over the western Gulf of Mexico is producing southerly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation but the vertical wind shear is not too strong.  Tropical Storm Nate will become a hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico.  If an eyewall and an eye form, then Nate could have a period of rapid intensification.

The upper low over the western Gulf of Mexico and a ridge east of Florida are combining to steer Tropical Storm Nate toward the north-northwest and that general motion is expected to continue on Saturday.  An upper level trough approaching from the west will turn Nate toward the northeast when it nears the U.S.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Nate will pass near the northeastern end of the Yucatan peninsula and move into the Gulf of Mexico on Friday night.  Nate will approach southeastern Louisiana and Central Gulf Coast on Saturday night.

Nate will be a hurricane when it nears the U.S.  It will be capable of producing serious regional wind damage and power outages.  Nate could cause a storm surge of 10-12 feet (3 to 4 meters) near where the center makes landfall.  Nate could also drop locally heavy rain and cause fresh water flooding when it moves inland in the southern U.S.

Tropical Storm Nate Makes Landfall in Nicaragua

Tropical Depression Sixteen strengthened into Tropical Storm Nate and Nate made landfall on the coast of northeastern Nicaragua on Thursday morning.  At 2:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Tropical Storm Nate was located at latitude 14.5°N and longitude 84.0°W which put it about 50 miles (80 km) south-southwest of Puerto Lempira, Honduras.  Nate was moving toward the northwest at 9 m.p.h. (15 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 1001 mb.

A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos, Mexico.  A Tropical Storm Warning is also in effect from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from Sandy Bay Sirpi, Nicaragua to Punta Castilla, Honduras.

The center of Tropical Depression Sixteen strengthened on Thursday morning before it made landfall in Nicaragua and the National Hurricane Center designated the system as Tropical Storm Nate.  Showers and thunderstorms continue to develop near the center of circulation even though it is moving across northeastern Nicaragua.  The winds to tropical storm force are occurring in bands of showers and storms east of the center over the Caribbean Sea.  The winds are weaker in the portions of the circulation that are over land.

Tropical Storm Nate will not strengthen while the center is over land.  Nate will move into a favorable environment when it moves over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.  The Sea Surface Temperature will be near 30°C.  An upper level low will cause southerly winds to blow toward the top of the circulation, but the vertical wind shear is not likely to be strong enough to prevent intensification.  It could take a few hours for the inner core of the circulation to reorganize after it moves back over water.  Once the inner core reorganizes, then a period of rapid intensification could occur.  Nate could become a hurricane over the northwest Caribbean Sea or southern Gulf of Mexico.

An upper level low west of Florida will drift westward over the Gulf of Mexico.  The upper low and an upper level ridge east of Florida will combine to steer Tropical Storm Nate toward the north-northwest.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Nate will emerge over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.  Nate could be near the Yucatan peninsula on Friday night and it could move into the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday.  Nate could approach the northern Gulf Coast on Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Tropical Storm Nate is dropping heavy rain on parts of Nicaragua and Honduras.  There is the potential for flooding in those areas.  Nate is likely to be a hurricane when it approaches the Gulf Coast.  It will be capable of causing wind damage, a storm surge and locally heavy rain.

Low Pressure Develops Over Southwest Caribbean Sea

An area of low pressure developed over the southwestern Caribbean Sea on Tuesday afternoon and the system was designated Invest 90L.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Invest 90L was located at latitude 12.0°N and longitude 80.7°W which put it about 200 miles (320 km) east of Bluefields, Nicaragua.  It was moving toward the west-northwest at 5 m.p.h. (8 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 1008 mb.

The circulation of Invest 90L was still organizing on Tuesday afternoon.  The area of low pressure appeared to have a distinct center of circulation.  Several bands of showers and thunderstorms were forming south and east of the center of circulation.  There were fewer showers and thunderstorms northwest of the center.  There was some upper level divergence that was pumping mass away to the south and west of the center.

Invest 90L will be moving through an environment favorable for intensification.  The Sea Surface Temperature in the southwest Caribbean Sea is near 30°C and the warm water is fairly deep.  The energy content of the water in that area is high.  An upper level ridge centered over the western Gulf of Mexico is producing northeasterly which are blowing toward the northwestern side of Invest 90L.  Those winds are producing some vertical wind shear, but the shear is not likely to be strong enough to prevent the formation of a tropical cyclone.  Invest 90L is likely to become a tropical depression or storm during the next 24 to 48 hours.  If the center remains east of Nicaragua, rapid intensification could occur after the circulation consolidates around the low level center.

Invest 90L is moving slowly toward the west-northwest as it moves near the southern side of a mid-level ridge.  That ridge could steer Invest 90L close to the coast of Nicaragua during the next several days.  The mid-level ridge is forecast to move east to near the Bahamas during the next 24 to 48 hours.  After that time, southerly winds are forecast to steer Invest 90L toward the north.  On its anticipated track the center of Invest 90L could move very close to Nicaragua during the next day or two.  It could bring locally heavy rain to Nicaragua and Honduras.  Invest 90L could move into the Gulf of Mexico in a few days.  The intensity of Invest 90L when it reaches the Gulf will depend on how much it interacts with Nicaragua and the Yucatan peninsula.  If the center stays over water, then it could be a hurricane when it reaches the Gulf of Mexico.  If the center spends more time over land, then the system will be weaker when it reaches the Gulf.  Some models are forecasting that a hurricane could make landfall on the northern Gulf Coast during the weekend.

Tropical Storm Harvey Moves Into Louisiana, Irma Strengthens Quickly

Tropical Storm Harvey finally moved into Louisiana on Wednesday after lingering for several days over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.  Harvey weakened to a tropical depression after it moved inland.  At the same time a new tropical storm named Irma strengthened quickly over the eastern Atlantic Ocean.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Tropical Depression Harvey was located at latitude 31.7°N and longitude 92.3°W which put it about 30 miles (50 km) north-northeast of Alexandria, Louisiana.  Harvey was moving toward the north-northeast at 9 m.p.h. (15 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 35 m.p.h. (55 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 998 mb.

After dropping record rainfall and causing destructive floods of parts of southeastern Texas and western Louisiana, Tropical Depression Harvey finally started to move steadily toward the north-northeast on Wednesday.  Harvey was still producing heavy rain over parts of western Louisiana, but the fact that it was moving should limit the total rainfall at any location.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms on the far eastern periphery of Harvey’s circulation were also dropping heavy rain.  Some of those thunderstorms were strong enough to approach severe criteria.  Tropical Depression Harvey is forecast to move toward the Ohio River Valley during the next several days and it will bring windy, wet weather to the Middle Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys.  Rain associated with the circulation of Tropical Depression Harvey could also reach the Mid-Atlantic States later this week.

At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Tropical Storm Irma was located at latitude 16.4°N and longitude 32.2°W which put it about 545 miles (875 km) west of the Cabo Verde Islands.  Irma was moving toward the west at 12 m.p.h. (19 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 999 mb.

The circulation of Tropical Storm Irma organized quickly on Wednesday.  Numerous bands of showers and thunderstorms formed and began to revolve around a well organized center of circulation.  Thunderstorms in the core of Irma generated well developed upper level divergence which pumped away mass in all direction.  There were occasional satellite images which hinted that an eye could be forming at the center of Tropical Storm Irma.

Tropical Storm Irma will be moving through an environment that will be favorable for intensification.  Irma will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  The upper level winds are weak and there is little vertical wind shear.  Irma is likely to become a hurricane on Thursday and it could intensify rapidly if an eye forms.  Tropical Storm Irma is forecast to become a major hurricane and it could become one of the big classic Cape Verde hurricanes.

A strong subtropical high to the north of Irma is steering the tropical storm toward the west and a general westerly motion is forecast to continue for the next few days.  There is more divergence in the model guidance after a few days and the future track of Irma when it nears the Lesser Antilles is more uncertain.  Tropical Storm Irma has the potential to become a big dangerous hurricane and it will need to be watched carefully.