Storm gains strength, chances increase for tropical cyclone

By Phaedra Friend Troy

The tropical disturbance that has been traveling toward the Gulf of Mexico has strengthened over night with another storm forming in its wake. 

Look to PennEnergy and its daily Global Offshore Weather Report for up-to-date video coverage of offshore wind, waves and weather for the nine busiest offshore regions worldwide, including the Gulf of Mexico.

According to a report from the National Hurricane Center, the storm, currently named Tropical Disturbance 13, strengthened over night, showing signs of better organization.

Located in the Western Caribbean Sea just off the coast of Honduras, the storm is expected to be labeled a tropical cyclone this afternoon.

Currently, there is a high chance, or 70 percent chance, that the storm will become a tropical cyclone over the next 48 hours. An Air Force reconnaissance plane will fly through the storm later today to determine whether the disturbance has already formed into a tropical cyclone.

Storm Headed Toward the Gulf of Mexico

“We think it will cross the Yucatan Peninsula on Sunday, emerging into the southwestern Gulf on Monday,” reported Chris Hebert, chief hurricane meteorologist with ImpactWeather. “At that time, I think there will be enough organization left for it to redevelop on that side – become a tropical depression, tropical storm, possibly even a hurricane as it tracks west-northwest.”

Should this storm form into a hurricane, it will be the first one of the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which is expected to be a major one. Named Alex, this hurricane will be one of 23 named storms expected during the six-month period that spans June through November.

Hebert predicts that the storm will most likely make landfall on the northeastern Mexican coast or extreme southern coast of Texas on Wednesday of next week.

While some of the modular predictors have been tracking the storm toward Louisiana, Hebert does not expect the storm to trek this way.

“We still think that if it does turn northward toward Louisiana, you’ll have all day Monday for preparations offshore there,” he advised.

The petroleum industry has strengthened its safety operations and offshore designs to better withstand hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil spill containment and clean-up efforts pose a unique logistical challenge, which BP has been working to overcome.

Another Storm Forms on its Heels

Additionally, a second disturbance has formed in the wake of the first. Large, but currently disorganized, the storm is located near the Leeward Islands. Right now, the storm has a 10 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours.

Watch PennEnergy’s Global Offshore Weather Reports daily to determine how these storms and future storms might affect your offshore operations. Covering the nine busiest offshore regions, the reports are powered by the meteorologists and field-tested experience of ImpactWeather.

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