By Monica Garrett, CNN Meteorologist
The Atlantic hurricane season is becoming more active with a disturbance set to drench coastal Texas this week, and a system likely to soon be named Bonnie heading into Central America.
“Get ready for a wet few days across Southeast Texas,” the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Houston said Wednesday morning. The tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico will drift toward the Texas coast, bringing some much-needed rain plus a threat of flooding to the region.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is monitoring the area of disorganized thunderstorms over the northwestern Gulf as it is expected to move slowly westward, approaching the coast of Texas today.
“Some slow development is still possible and it could become a short-lived tropical depression near the coast before it moves inland tonight or early Thursday,” the hurricane center said.
Near-record June heat has contributed to very warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, a factor conducive to the development of topical systems. The current disturbance is limited by time, however, as it is not expected to remain over warm waters long.
Regardless of development, tropical downpours associated with this system are forecast along portions of eastern Texas, a region suffering from extreme drought, the second-highest level.
Rainfall chances are expected to increase Thursday and Friday, though timing and amounts remain difficult to predict.
“Weak, unorganized systems like this can be a real forecasting nightmare,” the Houston weather service explained. “Location errors can be very large, bringing large differences in the forecasted rain amounts for a certain location.”
The Gulf disturbance is expected to move into South Texas early Thursday, then north through East Texas Friday. As exactly where the disturbance comes ashore becomes more clear, so will who is most likely to received thunderstorms, some of which will be able to produce some locally heavy rainfall.
“Storms that can remain stationary for a longer duration will have greater chances of producing flash floods,” the Weather Prediction Center said. “Additionally, urban regions are also most at risk for ponding water over mostly impervious surfaces.”
Rainfall totals along the Texas coastline will generally be between two and four inches over the next four days.
“However, there will still be a scattered nature of the developing storms so expect large variations in the rainfall amounts where one street may get the 1″+ totals while a few streets down may get a trace.” the NWS in Houston said.
An extra silver lining to the rain and cloud cover will be some of the coolest temperatures in quite some time, with daytime highs peaking in the upper 80s.
Atlantic storm could keep its name in the Pacific
Potential Tropical Cyclone Two (PTC 2) is another area the hurricane center is watching for tropical development.
Located about 100 miles east-southeast of Curacao, PTC 2 is rapidly moving westward near the northern coast of Venezuela. The fast movement of the disturbance is likely keeping it from closing its circulation and becoming an official tropical system, according to the hurricane center’s morning discussion on the storm.
“All of the guidance continue to insist the system will slow down over the next few days,” the NHC said, adding “the system could become a tropical storm at any time today.”
A NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate the disturbance this afternoon.
Tropical storm warnings are in effect for several countries in the southern Caribbean. Heavy rain, localized flash flooding and tropical storm-force wind gusts will threaten the region.
“The disturbance will probably be struggling with, or recovering from, land interaction over the next day or so,” the hurricane center noted. “So little intensification is shown during that time.”
Conditions become much more favorable for significant strengthening later this week, but whether the system can take advantage remains to be seen.
The official forecast calls for a strong tropical storm to reach Central America late Friday, weakening as it crosses land and emerging into the Pacific, where it will strengthen once again.
Unlike Hurricane Agatha, which hit Mexico earlier this year, fell apart, and contributed to what eventually became Alex in the Atlantic, the system expected to become Bonnie is also forecast to remain intact across Central America. If it happens, the storm will keep the name Bonnie even as it traverses the Pacific Ocean.
Tropical systems have on occasion made the trip from the Atlantic Basin to the Pacific.
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