The 10 PM update has arrived from the National Hurricane Center. Debby is now stationary over the northern Gulf, with maximum sustained winds of 60 MPH. A 67 mph wind gust was measured in Venice Florida earlier. Dangerous surf is already being experienced from the Alabama coast eastward to Apalachicola. Sadly, one fatality was reported at Orange Beach as a result of a drowning.
In all my years of forecasting I don’t know if I’ve never seen so many forecast track adjustments associated with a tropical system this close to the coast. The center mark on the latest NHC forecast track has shifted slightly west. This is not surprising however, as the models have been all over the place. One of our primary forecast models, the GFS has suggested Debby will quickly lift northeast but the talk in the weather community is that these data are too aggressive with moving the system northeast. If you’ve kept up with the model madness, the NHC track is using a blend of the SHIPS statistical model and the HWRF/GFDL regional models.
This forecast is particularly challenging because of the weak steering currents. There is still a possibility of a west or eastward shift in the track. The stall is being caused by the ridge of high pressure that’s bringing us the very hot weather. Once the ridge starts to weaken over the coming days Debby will make her move.
Some dry air has now worked into the heart of the system and this has prevented rapid strengthening. It is believed that the atmosphere will moisten and some of the deeper convection over the Florida Peninsula will wrap into the core of the system. This will allow for a period of strengthening before the system encounters some upwelling of cooler water. We will have much more on Debby starting at 4:30 AM on Good Day Alabama. Meteorologist Dennis Washington will have a Live report from Gulf Shores.
Fox 6 Meteorologist Wes Wyatt
Twitter @ weswyattweather