We woke up to a new suite of model tracks with many showing a significant westward shift in the Gulf of Mexico. Note that the plot below represents models run on Thursday morning. The westward shift really rattled some fragile nerves locally.
Time to exhale
Then the latest GFS (American model) run started to roll in and it was sticking to its guns showing little becoming of '99L' even as it entered what many, including myself, saw as more favorable conditions in the Gulf of Mexico.
Here's where the trend becomes your friend. The big news came early this afternoon as the revered European model came in and was seemingly starting to fall in line with the GFS. It showed little becoming of '99L' as it approached and moved near/just south of south Florida. But a key difference is that this latest run of the Euro still does at least develop a tropical storm in the eastern Gulf before moving it northward toward the Big Bend region of the Florida panhandle.
Current state: hot mess
The most likely reason the models have backed off on development with '99L' today is its current state of affairs. It's essentially a 'naked swirl' of clouds near the Turks and Caicos Islands with no organized convection (t-storm activity) found anywhere close to its center. Wind shear and probably more so dry air have led to its demise.
Why you should still pay attention
'99L' is on life support. Most of the more reliable guidance keeps it to our east. So why are we even still talking about this pitiful looking swirl of clouds? Here are 3 reasons to keep up with '99L':
- IF, and it's a big 'IF', it manages to hold together for another 48 hours, conditions should gradually become more favorable for development.
- I still think computer guidance may be underestimating the strength of high pressure over the southeast U.S. Stronger, more persistent high pressure would result in a more westward track.
- Many of you will be extremely busy this weekend trying to recover from the recent floods. Should '99L' get its act together, it's possible some could wake up to a 'surprise' tropical storm on Monday morning in the Gulf of Mexico. At that point, we may only be 48 hours or so from a landfall.
The trend is our friend right now. The longer '99L' struggles, the better the chance that it will never recover and have the opportunity to organize. Much of our model guidance is now following this train of thought, making '99L' a non-story.
But do not let your guard down. Uncertainty continues to be very high on both the track and intensity of this system and we still need to monitor it closely since it will likely move into the Gulf of Mexico by early next week in some form or fashion.