Tropical depression nine, centered in the SE Gulf of Mexico, appears to be more organized this afternoon to me, as thunderstorms are starting to develop near to the weak center of circulation. USAF hurricane hunters found no winds of tropical storm force in their flight this morning, but it would not be surprising at all if this system becomes a tropical storm before the end of the day, with wind shear backing off allowing the storms over the center. These storms allow the upper-level heating and subsequent pressure falls at the surface that lead to intensification.
However, the system will encounter shear again within 48 hours, and the National Hurricane Center does not expect it to become a hurricane before making landfall in northern Florida late this week. In addition, NHC expects the storm to be steered eastward by a weak cool front that will bring drier air and cooler nights to Alabama by the weekend.
The hurricane hunter aircraft will investigate the system again this afternoon, and then we will know if it is a tropical storm. If the NHC track is correct, the system would not affect the Alabama and NW Florida beaches too much, other than to bring some scattered thunderstorms and brisk north winds late this week. Here in Birmingham, we could see a pick-up in afternoon storms Thu and Fri, then a beautiful Labor Day Weekend with lower humidity. But, a small number of computer models take the storm farther west, so all that could change. Everyone with interests along the Gulf Coast should keep an eye on this system.
We will have updates here on the blog, and then on Fox 6 news at 5:00 pm.
I will publish part 2 of my series on hurricanes this afternoon on the blog around 4:00 pm. This blog will explain the dynamics of how hurricanes form, why they sometimes intensify and sometimes do not, why wind shear affects them, etc.
Dr. Tim Coleman