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June 2012

96L to Become Debby and Bring Rain to East-Central Gulf Coast Regardless of Track

   Posted by Levi at 4:55pm on June 22, 2012

Invest 96L, what promises to be one of the greatest forecasting challenges this season, continues to slowly organize north of the Yucatan Peninsula this morning. The only significant batch of convection associated with it is removed east of the center over the Yucatan Channel. A new lobe of low pressure will likely develop within the broader circulation close to this area of convection and move northward during the next 24-36 hours, eventually dragging the rest of the broad circulation with it. Consolidation of the system will be slow, but it should steadily organize with time as it moves slowly northward to a position southeast of New Orleans during the next 2 days.

By Sunday, 96L will likely stall and not move much for a little while as it decides which way to go. The models are still split on whether 96L will move northeast across Florida into a trough over the eastern seaboard, or whether it will be captured by the Texas ridge and brought westward. I am still of the mind that the westward track is what will eventually occur, with a track taking what should be Debby into southern Texas or northern Mexico. Yesterday more of the global models came back into agreement with this idea, and last night’s 0z runs of the ECMWF, UKMET, and CMC all support that track. However, the ensemble means reveal a very low-confidence forecast, with the ensemble members spread from coast to coast across the Gulf of Mexico with 96L’s future track. Thus, there is still no real consensus, and the models are still deciding what to do with the system. As I mentioned yesterday, the trough that will be over the western U.S. coast makes me wary of the idea that the eastern trough can exert a strong influence over the central Gulf of Mexico in the face of the big Texas ridge between the two troughs. It is also difficult for such a trough to drag such a large monsoonal low northeast out of the deep tropics. While more models currently support my forecast, the northeast track into Florida cannot be discounted, and regardless of track, heavy rains will be spreading through Florida and likely the central gulf coast as well during the next 3-4 days.

96L will take its time strengthening due to its size, and a track into Florida likely wouldn’t give it enough time to become more than a moderate tropical storm. However, if 96L stalls in the central gulf and then takes my track westward, it may have enough time to take advantage of lower wind shear and become stronger, possibly becoming a hurricane in the western gulf, but not much can be known about the peak intensity of this storm until it has developed and we have more confidence in its track and timing. For now, the entire gulf coast should keep a close eye on this system.

We shall see what happens!

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  • weatherh98 says:


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  • Joanie says:

    Great job Levi as always!!! Thank you for explaining everything!! :):)

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  • Anonymous says:

    Is there any chance of a tropical system hitting the Houston/Beaumont area, like the Canadian model says?

    • Levi says:

      I think the Canadian may be a bit too far north, but it will be difficult to be sure until 96L actually begins to take the westward path. I would expect at least wet and perhaps blustery weather early-mid next week, and watch the system closely. If it is going to threaten Houston directly, you can be sure you will hear about it here.

  • mandiekate79 says:

    Thanks Levi! Completely agree with you on this one. Last few runs of the Euro are definitely the more likely scenario. I also agree with your thoughts on the TX trough becoming more elliptical in nature. Spending the day tomorrow prepping for the storm. Keep the info coming. It’s well appreciated.

  • Shaun says:


    Amazing inputs and detail but I have to say, the Texas ridge will not influence what is to become Debby, while it may grab a portion of the energy and go west the main area of low pressure that will become named “Debby” will drift northward and will without a doubt track through the FL peninsula. This is mainly due to the orientation of the primary influencing high slowly exerting pressure on the sw side of the triangle you elegantly illustrated. Additionally, the main event will get far enough north to in fact become influenced by the Atlantic trof. But definitely a challenging forecast and torrential rains for Florida coastline is unarguably the impact to come, possibly the most sig impact at that.

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  • Jason says:

    Good morning Levi,
    I live in the southeast Texas area and was checking in for the very latest as to where Debby may go. All the local stations in my area are still saying it will be a Florida landfall. Just last night they did mention it may shift west but would still be no threat to our area whatsoever. What are your thoughts. Those comments make me a little nervous. I can remember in 2005 when Rita was in the gulf and all the local stations said no,no,no it will be a south texas landfall. The end result was a direct hit on our area.

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  • Jason says:

    Hello again Levi,
    I’ve since noticed that Joe Bastardi is starting to lean toward the texas landfall as well as of this morning. His son Garrett put out a forecast track last night. He thinks the Galveston area has pretty good shot at a landfall as a Hurricane what are your thoughts?

  • Gary Z says:

    GFS is still saying EAST!

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