The hurricane season is awakening from its slumber. After several quiet weeks, the National Hurricane Center said Monday that there’s an 80% chance a tropical depression will form by the end of the week in the Gulf of Mexico.
If the depression’s winds reach 39 mph, it would become Tropical Storm Barry.
“Regardless of development, this system has the potential to produce heavy rainfall along portions of the northern and eastern U.S. Gulf Coast later this week,” the hurricane center said.
AccuWeather senior meteorologist Adam Douty warned that “residents from western Florida to eastern Louisiana should especially remain alert for an increase in downpours and a heightened risk for flooding later this week and into the start of the weekend.”
The storm could strengthen into a hurricane, according to BAM Weather meteorologist Ryan Maue, who said Gulf water temperatures are over 82 degrees in spots, which is “plenty sufficient for a (major) hurricane.”
Last year’s monsters: From Florence to Michael, see the most devastating 2018 hurricane season photos
Beyond the forecast of heavy rain, the hurricane center said, “At this time, it is too soon to determine the magnitude and location of any potential wind or storm surge impacts along the Gulf Coast.”
The weather system that could spawn the tropical depression is hovering over Georgia, according to the hurricane center. That system will sink south toward the Gulf over the next few days.
To help its residents prepare for the rain, the city of Tallahassee opened four sandbag distribution centers.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, urged Floridians to be prepared.
From 1950 to 2018, 67 named storms formed in July, averaging about one named storm in July each year, the Weather Channel said.
The strongest recent storm to make landfall in the USA in July was Hurricane Dennis, which hit the western Florida Panhandle on July 10, 2005, as a Category 3 hurricane.
Image: The National Hurricane Center said there’s an 80% chance of a tropical depression forming in the Gulf of Mexico by the end of the week. The red X indicates where the nascent storm is now; the red shaded area shows where it could form. (Photo: National Hurricane Center)