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Will a budding tropical threat worsen Harvey's disastrous flooding in Texas, Louisiana?


During early next week, an area of downpours will coagulate over the western Gulf of Mexico and may give birth to a tropical system that drifts toward the Texas and Louisiana coasts.

While the western Gulf was largely free of showers and thunderstorms on Thursday, this is likely to slowly change as the Labor Day weekend progresses.

"A tropical disturbance is likely to form over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico this weekend into early next week," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

Static Western Gulf Tropical Concern


"Should the system move more to the northeast, rather than the north, it may have a better chance at becoming a tropical depression," Kottlowski said.

Winds aloft are strong, but near the surface, steering winds are weak at this time.

As the disturbance buds, it may begin to throw enough moisture westward to produce downpours along the Texas coast and northward over the Louisiana coast from late Sunday to Wednesday.

The track of this potential tropical system may also determine its chances of whether it becomes a significant threat in terms of development and especially rainfall.

"A more northward drift as opposed to a northeastward drift may limit the system's development chances," Kottlowski said.

However, a more northward drift is more likely to throw downpours westward toward the Texas coast.

How far to the west the downpours get, how long they last and how far to the east the tropical disturbance tracks will depend on a southward dip in the jet stream during the middle of next week.

The jet stream is a high-speed river of air at the level where jets cruise at.

Static Jet Pattern Mid-Next Week


If this jet stream reaches as far as Texas, the downpours and tropical disturbance will be steered east of the Texas coast. Downpours may still occur but the duration would be limited as dry air sweeps in from the northwest.

The most likely time for some rain in the Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, areas will be on Monday and Tuesday. Torrential rain could reach as far west as areas hit hard by flooding from the biggest rainstorm on record for the continental United States.

Any additional rain, heavy or not, could hinder cleanup and recovery efforts as many areas will still be under water. It would take several inches of rain in a short period of time to have major impact on river and bayou levels. However, even a small amount of rain could delay or slow the recession of water that has already inundated neighborhoods.

Either way, along the central Gulf Coast, downpours are likely to develop later this weekend and into next week. Enough rain may fall in this area to cause localized flooding in places that escaped the wrath of Harvey.

New Orleans; Biloxi, Mississippi; Mobile, Alabama; and Pensacola, Florida, may be at risk for flooding problems, should the system take a more northeasterly path.



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