Just as Nicole posted this morning, we're closely following the flare up of cloud-cover in the Gulf of Mexico associated with an organizing system which could become the first named tropical storm of the season ("Andrea") by tomorrow or tomorrow night. The reason we're following this system so closely is because it will impact our forecast to a large degree Thursday and Friday.
Latest: The National Hurricane Center has stated that a recon-plane was set to fly into the central Gulf of Mexico to identify if a low-level center has formed. This is important in identifying if a tropical depression or tropical storm can be classified and named.
Once I looked at the visible satellite imagery from the afternoon (first image to the right), there is some evidence of counter-clockwise spin within the low-clouds to the left of the system which looks to me like this system is at least showing signs of obtaining tropical depression status. The majority of rain associated with the flare up of high cloud-tops are east of the center.
Our Position in Relation to the System: We are currently located northeast of this system which puts us on the eastern, moisture-packed side of the circulation as tropical humidity is pulled in our direction. As I mentioned, most of the thunderstorms and highest cloud-tops remain east of the center and this is typical for tropical systems.
Track of This System: This tropical disturbance will continue to move north-northeast. A weak, cold front west of us will also aide in pushing the system northeast.
Occasional Downpours in Our Forecast: Thursday has been a tough day to pin down as far as how much rain to expect, but it looks as if spotty downpours is what we will deal with rather than any steady rain. We will probably have more dry time tomorrow than rainy periods.
Just like Wednesday, I expect the best chance for scattered rain and storms with some very heavy rain at times to come in the afternoon along with very muggy conditions.
Friday looks like a very rain day due to the center of circulation positioning itself just south of us. Friday looks especially rainy in the pre-dawn hours and also in the morning. Still, it's best to expect occasional rain not only in the morning, but in the afternoon as well along with very high humidity again.
Many towns could pick up 1-3" and as high as 4" of rain from now through Friday evening.
**6PM Update: The National Hurricane Center recon-plane has identified an organized low-level center and will now issue advisories for Tropical Storm Andrea during the next few days.
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