The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has now labeled the disturbance in the Caribbean as a “potential tropical cyclone.” They do that when a system may reach tropical storm status just before reaching a landmass. Rather than wait and name the system just before landfall, labeling the system as a potential tropical cyclone allows the NHC to begin tracking the system and providing crucial updates on the system. The system is too close to Jamaica and other islands to not go ahead and give them important track and intensity info. The NHC doesn’t provide track data on systems that are not either named or labeled as potential tropical cyclones.
The system is expected to become Tropical Storm Delta anytime tonight or tomorrow. The system will then head north into the Gulf of Mexico.
The latest data today now indicates the system will strengthen into a hurricane. In fact, it could be at least a category 2 hurricane (100 mph winds) by the time it makes landfall on the northern Gulf Coast, possibly near New Orleans. The NHC emphasizes that both track and intensity are at higher-than-normal levels of uncertainty.
We have a cold front coming the end of the week and the thought is that the front will kick this system northward and onto the Gulf Coast. That is a very likely scenario, though the exact location of landfall is more uncertain at this time.
The current track of future “Delta” takes it to, well, the Mississippi Delta region of Louisiana and Mississippi.
Interestingly, models then bring the storm north into Middle TN by Saturday. That would certainly increase our rain chances and, depending on the exact track, could even bring us some heavy rain and very gusty winds. This almost reminds me of Opal back in October of 1995, if you remember that storm?
A lot can change between now and the weekend but I wanted to give you a heads up. This could have big impacts on our weekend forecast.
I’ll be tracking the system all week and keeping you informed!