As Texas politics heat up, there may be some cooling relief in sight for the blistering local weather and record drought. Via Jeff Masters:
One other area we need to watch later this week is the Gulf of Mexico. A significant shift in the atmospheric circulation is predicted for the region, with the ridge of high pressure that has brought Texas its record heat and drought predicted to shift eastwards and allow a flow of moist, tropical air into the state. A low pressure region is forecast to develop in the Gulf near the coast of Texas on Wednesday or Thursday, and this low will need to be watched for tropical development. The shift in the large scale weather pattern does not signal a permanent end to the Texas drought, but it should bring welcome rains and cooler temperatures to the Lone Star state beginning on Thursday. This will be a relief to the residents of Austin, where the temperature topped out at 112°F yesterday–the hottest day in Austin’s recorded history ..
That would be great. It’s awful here, not just baking hot, but dry as a bone too. I was out at a local lake over the weekend and it looked more like a narrow desert river snaking through the bottom of an impressive limestone canyon. We need rain desperately. The one thing that worries me about that quote above is the part I put in bold.
Tropical waves coming off of western Africa aren’t the only way hurricanes form in the Atlantic. Any low pressure system over warm ocean water a few degrees of latitude away from the equator can turn into one. This is what happened in 2008 with Tropical Storm Edouard. The disorganized system formed in the gulf, and wandered west near the Texas coast. In a short burst, the storm went from tropical disturbances to a strong Tropical Storm. Had Edouard not been a couple of hours away from landfall when this happened it could easily have blown up into a major hurricane and caught the nearby coast completely off guard. The year before a similar system popped up and did reach Hurricane status. Humberto came out nowhere and intensified faster than any storm I’ve ever seen before striking east Texas as a category 1.
Right now the gulf is so hot almost any disturbance could become a depression. And in these conditions, any depression could bloom into a major hurricane with little in the way of warning. That would probably mean great relief for much of Texas, at the small risk of disaster for a section of coast.