Storm system headed toward Yucatán could become tropical cyclone

A storm approaches Yucatán. Graphic: WBBH-TV
A storm approaches Yucatán. Graphic: WBBH-TV

The odds continue to increase that a spinning weather system off the coast of Honduras will become a tropical cyclone — a depression, storm or hurricane — within the next five days, weather forecasters say.

The National Hurricane Center has designated this weather system Invest 91, and it has a 70 percent chance to become a depression and a 30 percent chance to become a tropical storm within five days, says a meteorologist at NBC 2 in Fort Meyers, Fla.

Invest 91 is part of a larger system called a Central American Gyre, which is bringing heavy rain and flooding to that region of the tropics.

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The latest forecast spaghetti models show the system, which will likely be named Michael, will move north toward the Gulf Coast and make landfall between Louisiana and the Florida panhandle.

The northeast quadrants of Central American Gyres can and do often spawn tropical cyclones as their parent gyre moves northwest across the Caribbean and Yucatán Peninsula.

The only thing stopping Invest 91 from gaining strength is a large area of wind shear over Cuba and the Yucatán to the north. This wind shear should keep Invest 91 from organizing for much of the weekend.

Wind shears will relax, however, by Monday, which will open the door for development.

Based on forecast models, the area to watch for formation will be the strip of ocean between the Yucatán and Cuba on Sunday and Monday.

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“As with any tropical system, little things make a big difference, little things that computers cannot tell you several days out and before a storm even forms,” said Matt Gray at the television station.

Why keep an eye on this story? Look at the last tropical system to form out of a Central American Gyre. On this date in 2017, Hurricane Nate was causing massive flooding across Central America as it emerged from its parent gyre. The storm passed over the same region that Invest 91 is likely to travel and eventually became the fourth hurricane to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast that season.

A year ago, Nate caused the death of 22 people in Central America, but largely spared the Yucatán Peninsula.

Source: WBBH-TV

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