Potential Tropical Cyclone Three Reaches Tropical Storm Force

Potential Tropical Cyclone Three reached tropical storm force south of Louisiana on Friday afternoon. At 2:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Potential Tropical Cyclone Three (03L) was located at latitude 27.3°N and longitude 91.1°W which put it about 165 miles (265 km) south of Morgan City, Louisiana. Potential Tropical Cyclone Three was moving toward the north at 14 m.p.h. (22 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 1007 mb.

A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Morgan City, Louisiana to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line, Florida including New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas. The Tropical Storm Warning included Biloxi, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida.

The circulation around Potential Tropical Cyclone Three strengthened on Friday afternoon. A C-MAN station (BURL1) at Southwest Pass, Louisiana with an anemometer at a height of 38 meters reported a sustained wind speed of 44 m.p.h. (71 km/h) and a wind gust of 51 m.p.h. (82 km/h). The sustained wind speed was equivalent to a speed of 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) at a standard observation height of 10 meters.

The circulation around Potential Tropical Cyclone Three continued to consist of a broad low pressure system at the surface. The strongest winds were occurring northeast of the center of the broad low pressure system. A high pressure system southeast of the U.S. was contributing to a stronger pressure gradient in that region. The stronger pressure gradient was causing winds to blow at tropical storm force. The winds were weaker in the other parts of Potential Tropical Cyclone Three. There were several smaller circulations revolving counterclockwise around the broader Potential Tropical Cyclone Three. One of the smaller circulations was south of Louisiana and another one was over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. The strongest thunderstorms were occurring in bands northeast of the broad center and in a long band on the eastern side of the circulation.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Three will move through an environment slightly favorable for intensification during the next few hours. Potential Tropical Cyclone Three will move over an area where the Sea Surface Temperatures are near 29°C. It will move between an upper level low over eastern Texas and an upper level ridge over the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The low and ridge will produce southwesterly winds that will blow toward the top of Potential Tropical Cyclone Three. Those winds will cause moderate vertical wind shear and the shear will inhibit intensification. The upper level ridge will contribute to upper level divergence that will pump mass to the east of Potential Tropical Cyclone Three. There will also be drier air over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, which will make it difficult for thunderstorms to develop in that area. Potential Tropical Cyclone Three could intensify a little more during the next six hours. If a well defined surface center of circulation develops, the system could be designated as a tropical storm.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Three will move around the western end of the high pressure system southeast of the U.S. The high pressure system will steer it toward the north-northeast during the next 24 hours. On its anticipated track Potential Tropical Cyclone Three will make landfall in southeastern Louisiana on Friday night. The system will move across southeastern Mississippi on Saturday and it could reach Alabama by Saturday night. It will bring gusty winds to southeast Louisiana and the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama. The system could cause a storm surge of 3 to 5 feet (1.0 to 1.5 meters) along parts of the coast. It will drop locally heavy rain when it moves inland. Heavy rain could cause flash floods over parts of the southeastern U.S. Flash Flood Watches were in effect for parts of southeastern Mississippi, Alabama, northwestern Florida, and western Georgia. There may also be enough low level wind shear to produce tornadoes when the rainbands in the eastern side of the circulation when it moves inland.