Winds Remain At 60 Miles Per Hour For Slow Moving Storm
The Atlantic Basin continues to have a fast start to the 2012 Hurricane Season. Tropical Storm Debby, fourth storm of the season, formed on Saturday afternoon in the Gulf after a broad area of low pressure became better organized. Maximum sustained winds at that point were at 50 miles per hour.
Since then, Debby has strengthened a bit, but still hasn’t become a hurricane. As of the 4 PM CDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, the storm was only packing 60 mile per hour winds. The system has not intensified at all since the morning when its wind speed was bumped up.
Areas along the Gulf Coast from Western Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle had been under a Tropical Storm Watch or Warning until this afternoon. The warnings have shifted further east. Louisiana and Mississippi are no longer under any watches or warnings while the entire coast of Alabama and much of the Florida Gulf Coast and Panhandle are under an advisory.
Presently, the storm is located some 205 miles to the East-Southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, or 100 miles to the SSW of Appalachicola, Florida. Maximum sustained winds are again at 60 miles per hour with gusts up to 70 miles per hour. Barometric pressure is at 993 millibars, or 29.32 inches of Hg (Mercury). Debby is moving very slowly to the Northeast at 3 miles per hour. At that rate, the storm is forecast to make landfall along the Gulf Coast on Wednesday afternoon.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Suwanee River in Florida. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from south of the Suwanee River to Englewood, Florida. Looking at the latest satellite imagery courtesy of NOAA, there is definitely more organization that has taken place since Friday, but it is still evolving.
The outflow is well defined on the eastern half of the storm. Clouds and convection are starting to wrap around the center more. However, the structure still remains ragged. The bulk of the heaviest convection is on the eastern side over Florida, which is getting pounded by rain. A Tornado Watch is in effect for the Gulf Coast of the Sunshine State as outer bands of the storm rotate through.
Portions of Florida have already received over 3 inches of rain while other locales are getting about 2 inches per hour. Forecast rain totals through Tuesday morning are calling for 4 to 6 more inches with local amounts up to a foot. Winds have ranged between 34 and 48 miles per hour from the Florida Gulf Coast to the Pandhandle. The forecast track has shifted thanks to the storm’s slow motion.
The vast circulation hasn’t made up its mind yet where it will make its landfall. A strong ridge of high pressure that has been responsible for producing tremendous heat over the Great Plains may be too far west of the storm to have a significant influence on it. A trough over the Eastern half of the country, which will help push through another cold front on Monday may be too far to the north to reel it in.