Invest 96L will likely develop over Gulf of Mexico
An area of low pressure over the southern Gulf of Mexico is a threat to develop into a tropical cyclone in the next couple of days. This tropical disturbance is classified as Invest 96L. Visible satellite imagery and surface observations both indicate that the disturbance’s broad surface center is located just north of the Yucatan Peninsula. Latest satellite loop shows that the shower and thunderstorm activity has diminished and become less organized on 96L probably due to some dry air to its northwest and moderate to high wind shear with 15 - 25 knots. However, 96L is in a region of warm sea surface temperature with 28°C; it is warm enough to support tropical cyclone development. Therefore, 96L is expected to slowly organize to become a tropical cyclone in the coming days.
Figure 1. Afternoon visible satellite imagery of Invest 96L.
Forecast for 96L
96L is anticipated to remain in the relatively favorable conditions over the next several days. SHIPS model predicts that wind shear will remain in moderate range over the next 5 days. Sea surface temperatures are expected to remain roughly 28°C over the next 120 hours. These conditions would allow 96L to gradually organize and become a tropical cyclone in the next few days. The tropical disturbance is forecasted to slowly move generally northward in the central Gulf of Mexico over the next 2 days. After that, however, the forecast track for 96L becomes complex. Most models forecast the disturbance to hit the western coast of Florida by the next several days, and continue moving east-northeastward out to Atlantic Ocean. Other few models are predicting 96L to affect Texas and Louisiana in the next several days. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is giving 96L a 70% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours. Therefore, interests along the entire United States Gulf coast should closely monitor the disturbance’s progress over the next several days. 96L is expected to continue bringing heavy rains to the Yucatan Peninsula, western Cuba, and southern Florida during the next 24 hours.
Figure 2. Track model forecast of Invest 96L. Image courtesy: South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).