TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Potential Tropical Cyclone Four has formed in the western Gulf, near the coastline of Mexico.
Maximum sustained winds are 35 mph and the current movement is to the northwest at 14 mph.
Hurricane hunter aircraft flew through the system on Friday but did not find a closed center of circulation. Further organization and strengthening is expected over the next 24 hours.
The system will be out over the open Gulf of Mexico, which is very warm right now, for another day. Conditions look conducive for this system to develop into a Tropical Depression or Tropical Storm.
If it does reach Tropical Storm strength, it will take the next name on this year’s list, which is Danielle.
The forecast confidence is high for this system’s track. We expect it to slowly strengthen as it makes its way towards the northern Mexican coastline. The forecast models all generally agree on this path, with no outliers.
The Potential Tropical Cyclone is expected to produce total rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches, with isolated totals of 8 inches, along the eastern coast of Mexico from the northern portions of the state of Veracruz across the state of Tamaulipas. Rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches with isolated higher amounts are possible across far south Texas.
The combination of storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.
Storm surge could raise water levels by as much as 1 to 2 feet above normal tide levels along the immediate coast of northeastern Mexico near and to the north of where the center makes landfall.
The Potential Tropical Cyclone designation was created a few years ago for circumstances precisely like this one. This system has Tropical Depression/Tropical Storm force winds, but no closed center of circulation, so it does not fit the technical specifications for the National Hurricane Center to number or name it and begin issuing watches and warnings for areas that will experience the winds and rain within the next 24-72 hours.
The Potential Tropical Cyclone designation allows the NHC to issue warnings for Mexico and Texas, which can expect Tropical Storm conditions over the weekend.