Harvey Getting Its Act Together in the Gulf of Mexico

After Moving Through Central America and the Yucatan, Harvey Becomes a Depression Again

Earlier this week, I discussed the situation with Harvey, which was undergoing struggles in the hostile environment of the Central Caribbean. A short time after that post, Harvey was downgraded to an open wave, and its remnants continued to push westward and eventually came ashore in Central America and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Over the past several days, Harvey’s remnants moved through the Yucatan, and eventually, re-emerged in the Bay of Campeche and headed north into the Southern Gulf of Mexico. Then, late Wednesday morning, Harvey’s remains regenerated into a depression again. The system is getting its act together act albeit slowly right now. Keep in mind though that the Gulf of Mexico has been running very warm this year.

As of the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center, at 4:00 PM CDT, Tropical Depression Harvey was located some 525 miles to the South-Southeast of Port O’Connor, Texas, or about 460 miles Southeast of Port Mansfield, Texas. The depression is moving very slowly at just 2 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds are still at 35 miles per hour, and pressure is still relatively high at 1005 millibars, or 29.68 inches of Hg.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Texas coast from north of Port Mansfield to San Luis Pass. A Storm Surge Watch is now in effect from Port Mansfield to High Island in Texas while a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Northern Mexico and Texas from Boca De Catan to Port Mansfield, and north of San Luis Pass to High Island. There is a great deal of uncertainty as far as what Harvey will ultimately do in terms of its future path.

The storm could impact anywhere along the Texas Coast from just south of Brownsville near Matamoros, Mexico all the way up into Southwestern Louisiana. Tropical storm force and perhaps hurricane force winds could impact somewhere along the Texas coast as early as Friday night or early Saturday morning. Looking at the latest forecast discussion from the National Hurricane Center, Harvey is currently forecast to strengthen to a strong tropical storm with 70 mile per hour winds within 48 hours.

However, it is possible that Harvey could become the season’s third hurricane with minimal intensity of 75 mile per hour winds. Right now, the system is being affected by northerly shear, and despite the very warm sea surface temperatures around the Gulf, Harvey has been unable to rapidly intensify. The NHC indicates that an upper level low over the Northwestern Gulf is responsible for Harvey’s struggles, but should dissipate within the next 24 to 36 hours.

In addition, Harvey may be on path to move over a very warm eddy in the Gulf that is an offshoot of the Loop Current, which gained notoriety during the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Center, especially with monster storms, Katrina and Rita. So, Harvey, which is showing a trademark “S” shape for tropical systems, but is still lacking banding could experience more favorable conditions prior to making landfall in Texas, and become a hurricane.

Regardless of what the peak intensity of the storm will be, Harvey does present a significant flooding threat for Eastern Texas and Western Louisiana. With an abundance of tropical moisture coming from this developing system, there could be heavy rainfall. The NHC lists rainfall as the biggest threat from Harvey with potential rainfall accumulations ranging from 10 to 15 inches with isolated areas receiving 20 inches along the middle and upper Texas coast into Southwestern Louisiana.

Other areas in Texas, Louisiana, and the Mississippi Valley could see upwards of 9 inches. Keep in mind, places such as New Orleans have already seen a good deal of flooding rains earlier this summer. Storm Surge could be another threat with the area under the Storm Surge Watch from Port Mansfield to High Island ranging between 4 to 6 feet. In addition to Harvey emerging as a threat in the Gulf, Invest 92L has been getting some attention in the Bahamas and South Florida, but has a low chance of development over the next 48 hours to five days.