Heavy rains biggest threat in possible Gulf cyclone, forecasters say


Highlights

Storms in the Gulf had a 70 percent chance of forming into a cyclone over the next few days, forecasters say.

The weather service said rain from the tropical system would soak South-Central Texas through the weekend.

Weather forecasters and emergency officials along the Texas Gulf Coast on Wednesday were keeping a steady eye on a disorganized cluster of storm clouds gathering in the warm waters northwest of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.

At press time, the storms brewing in the Gulf had a 70 percent chance of forming into a cyclone over the next few days, according to the National Hurricane Center.

If the cyclone strengthens, it could develop into a tropical storm and, with enough heat and moisture, possibly a hurricane.

National Weather Service meteorologist Cory Van Pelt said the system, organized or not, could arrive in Texas by this weekend with Austin seeing significant rainfall Friday and Saturday.

“We’ll probably get some rainfall this weekend, but it will depend on where the storm goes,” he said.

In a bulletin issued by the weather service Wednesday afternoon, meteorologist Jason Runyen added that “it is likely that a tropical depression will form on Thursday, before the system reaches the Texas coast.”

But the system could pose a threat to Texas even if it stays disorganized, University of Texas meteorology lecturer Troy Kimmel said Wednesday.

He warned that even as “additional moisture and this disturbance overall moves northwestward toward the Texas coast, a weakening stationary front along the coast will likely drift back northwest,” setting the stage for heavy rainfall in South Texas and the Gulf Coast.

“It’s in my thought that our area of Texas could receive 1 to 3 inches of rain between now and the end of the weekend with isolated heavier totals especially in areas south and southwest of Austin,” Kimmel said.

The weather service said forecasters expect rain from the tropical system to soak South-Central Texas through the weekend.

“The favored areas for heaviest rainfall amounts and potential flooding currently look to be along the Rio Grande, western Hill Country, and San Antonio metro,” Runyen said. “Two to 4 inches of rain with isolated totals near 8 inches will be possible Friday through Sunday across these areas.”

Although that heavy rainfall would likely be spread out over three days, Runyen noted, “many areas are saturated or near-saturated from recent rainfall and as little as a quick 1 inch of rainfall could bring flash flooding.”

He said the weather service expected to make adjustments to rainfall projections over the coming days.

Kimmel said that until Texas residents know exactly how this system develops and where it goes, “all areas of South, Southeast and South-Central Texas should remain in close touch with forecast information.”



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