All indications continue to point to the possibility of a tropical depression forming over the southern Gulf of Mexico over the next couple of days. The NHC now puts the chance at 70 percent. The surface low is just north of the Yucatan tonight and pressures are falling across the region, a sign of development.
Gulf temperatures are certainly warm enough to support the development of a tropical system. Wind shear is the only limiting factor, which could keep it from developing very much, or even at all.
Air Force reconnaissance will investigate the disturbance tomorrow.
The GFS still forecasts that the system will move toward Florida, arriving on the Peninsula either late Sunday or early Monday. The European, however, has defected to the idea that the system will move northwestward into the Central Gulf, siding with the Canadian. The Canadian develops it into a tropical depression tomorrow north of the Yucatan, moves it northward to a point southeast of New Orleans by Sunday, where it strengthens into a strong tropical storm or hurricane before it starts a westward trek along the Gulf Coast toward Texas. Extrapolating its track, the system would make landfall near Houston Wednesday or Thursday. The European is taking a similar theme to its output, with the storm making landfall on the Middle Texas coast near Corpus Christi Thursday.
Needless to say, there is a lot of uncertainty in this forecast which could have a big bearing on the weather along the Gulf Coast. For now, we will continue to watch developments in the Gulf and alert anyone heading south over the weekend or next week to do the same.
Chris briefly became a hurricane on Thursday. The upgrade was short lived, however, as the system fell back to tropical storm status on the late afternoon advisory. By the time you get your morning coffee, Chris will likely have lost its tropical characteristics. The tropical storm is about 600 miles east southeast of Newfoundland. It is forecast to meander in a circle, not moving more than 150 miles over the next 48 hours.