While Tropical Storm Katia is still far out in the Atlantic and the better part of a week from nearing any land mass, it’s still an area worth watching for Tampa Bay residents simply because it’s too soon to say for sure whether it’s going to threaten the U.S. National Hurricane Center forecasters expect it to stay on it’s northwesterly course over the next five days. However, they are also expecting it to take a more northerly turn somewhere near the end of their 5 day forecast. Just when it turns and how sharp that turn will determine whether Katia is a threat to the U.S., a threat to Canada’s Maritime provinces or a threat to North Atlantic shipping.
Meanwhile an area of disturbed weather over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico has a 60 percent chance of developing into a tropical depression or even Tropical Storm Lee by Friday according to NHC forecasters. Storms that develop in the Gulf of Mexico are of special concern to emergency managers all the way from Mexico to the Florida Keys for a number of reasons. The Gulf is surrounded by land and unless a storm fizzles out completely it has to hit land somewhere. Another problem is that weak steering currents can make predicting a Gulf-bred storm extremely difficult to forecast for computer models and humans. For a look at a really messy spaghetti chart take a look at the picture that accompanies this article. Hurricane expert and Weather Underground founder Dr. Jeff Masters takes a shot at describing what those lines mean. “The GFS model has a possible tropical depression forming by Sunday off the coast of Mississippi, then moving east-northeast over the Florida Panhandle on Monday. The ECMWF model forms the storm on Monday off the coast of Texas, and leaves the storm stalled out there through Wednesday. The UKMET model forms the storm Saturday off the coast of Louisiana, and leaves it stalled out there through Monday.”
For the latest official tropical weather updates from the National Hurricane Center click here. For the latest forecasts and computer models on both Tropical Storm Katia and Invest 93 from the Weather Underground click here.