It’s the first day of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season and what a way to start it off with our first disturbance heading towards the Gulf of Mexico. Disturbance 5 is currently located about 175 miles east of Jacksonville, FL. It’s moving to the west-southwest at 18-20 mph with max winds up to 30 mph. Organization is slowly increasing and it’ll be moving inland into northeastern Florida early this afternoon. Once it moves across Florida it’s expected to emerge into the eastern Gulf of Mexico this evening and track westward across the northern Gulf both Thursday and Friday. The current track moves it inland into Texas on Friday.
The combination of a fast westerly movement and moderate wind shear will likely hinder any development as it moves across the northern Gulf on Thursday and Friday. There’s a chance it could become a tropical depression or a weak tropical storm in the northern Gulf of Mexico prior to moving ashore on Friday into Texas.
As far as impacts to northern Florida today, heavy thunderstorms will be likely this afternoon. Rainfall accumulations of 1-2 inches will be likely with isolated heavier amounts up to 3-5 inches possible. Thunderstorm wind gusts could be as high as 50-60 mph. Disturbance 5 is expected to track westward across the northern Gulf of Mexico tomorrow and by Friday morning approach the Texas coast. Heavy showers and thunderstorms will be possible from the Houston area to Corpus Christi. Accumulations could be as much as 1-3 inches with isolated heavier amounts possible. The exact impacts will depend highly on the strength of the disturbance when it moves onshore.
We could certainly use the rain here in Texas since most of the state is still in an extreme or exceptional drought. Matter of fact, Houston is 13.61 inches below normal in terms of rainfall for this year. But even though we need the rain, I don’t think anyone is hoping for a tropical depression or storm, especially this early in the season (well, anytime for that matter). We’ll definitely be monitoring this very closely the next few days.