Houston News & Search
Photo: National Hurricane Center
The odds of a tropical storm hitting southeast Texas this week are inching slowly upward as swirling winds pick up in the Caribbean.
A tropical disturbance sparked by a broad band of low pressure in the northwestern Caribbean now has a 90 percent chance of turning into a tropical storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. If that system hits Houston, it could mean a torrent of rain and possible flooding.
But as of now, it’s still not clear where the stormy weather will hit.
“A lot of the models early on were going towards Florida and or south of Corpus Christi into Mexico,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Wendy Wong. “But some of the newer ones have a wider spread and it looks like most of the U.S. Gulf Coast should be keeping an eye on this now.”
Over the weekend, the warm seas and swirling winds have combined to toss a disorganized system of showers and thunderstorms at parts of the Caribbean. Over the coming days, that system is expected move slowly northwest over the Yucatan Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico where it will likely coalesce into a tropical or subtropical storm.
But will the storm pick up enough wind speed to turn into a hurricane?
“It’s always a possibility,” Wong said. “But given how close it is to the land when it does develop it may not.”
In the meantime, there could be some patchy showers before the skies clear on Tuesday. If the storm strikes Houston, it will likely come Wednesday or Thursday.
Of course, there’s still a chance the storm could miss the Bayou City entirely, but Harris County Homeland Security and Emergency Management is ready to go regardless.
“It’s pretty routine for us,” said OHSEM coordinator Mark Sloan.
“Most of us have already been prepared for hurricane season. We understand where we’re at because June 1 is the kick-off.”
The hurricane season, which doesn’t end till Nov. 30, is expected to be rougher than usual, with 11 to 17 named storms likely to strike. The first one – Arlene – formed out in the Atlantic in April, but stayed far from land.
If the current disturbance morphs into a storm, it will be named Bret.
A hurricane hunter aircraft is expected to head out to investigate the system sometime Sunday, according to the NHC. In the meantime, local officials are monitoring developments and staying at the ready.
“We’ll be staffing the Emergency Operations Center and monitoring this, tomorrow and all through the week as we figure out what Mother Nature wants to do with the storm,” Sloan said. “To us, this is what we do and why we do it.”
Houston News & Search