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June 2012

Debby Likely to Form Today

   Posted by Levi at 6:55pm on June 23, 2012

We are still watching invest 96L in the central Gulf of Mexico for development into Tropical Storm Debby, which should occur sometime later today. A recon plane is currently investigating 96L to see if the circulation has become defined enough to call it a tropical storm. You can follow live recon data on my recon plotting page throughout the next few days. The center of 96L is still exposed as convection is being sheared to the east by an upper low in the NW gulf. However, this upper low will be backing southwestward towards Mexico over the next couple of days, and a southwestward-moving upper low in the face of a tropical system to its east is usually a favorable or at least improving situation, and thus I expect wind shear will relax somewhat over 96L during the next 48-72 hours, probably not entirely, but enough to allow further gradual organization.

96L will be stalling southeast of New Orleans for the next day or two deciding which way to go. The models are amazingly still split on the track even though the fork in the road is already upon us. That is how close the ridge/trough setup to the north of this system is, and the computers still don’t agree on which feature will capture the storm and steer it. Due to the setup with two troughs, one on each coast of the U.S., and the known northeastward feedback bias that the GFS has, I still believe 96L will eventually get caught underneath the Texas ridge and be brought westward into the NW gulf of Mexico, a solution still supported by the ECMWF, UKMET, and some of the hurricane models. However, until the models reach a consensus, either my track or some other track, the other possibilities cannot be discounted, and the NE gulf coast should still be wary of a possible tropical cyclone landfall during the next few days. Regardless of where 96L ultimately decides to go, heavy rains and tropical storm-like conditions will spread over parts of Florida and the north gulf coast during the next couple of days.

If 96L ends up moving northeastward into Florida, conditions don’t seem likely to allow intensification into a hurricane, and a moderate-strong tropical storm would seem most probable in that scenario. However, if 96L does move westward towards Texas as I expect, the length of time over water and slightly improved upper-level environment could allow strengthening into a hurricane, but that is still several days away, and we will know more once 96L finally picks a track.

Overall, this is a classic early-season development that is taking its time organizing as a sheared system, but there is potential for a stronger storm to develop if it can consolidate the large amount of energy in the Gulf of Mexico. The track remains uncertain, and although my forecast is for a NW gulf coast landfall, the entire gulf coast still needs to monitor this storm closely.

We shall see what happens!

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  • Shaun says:


    Again I really like your presentation and level of detail you offer. Certainly a high level of uncertainty but would encourage you to revaluate your westward solution. The reality is we can’t rule it out but by far it doesn’t have the main outcome. You provided some reasoning as to why regarding sheared precipitin off to the NW in relation to the three main models; however, it was a bit unhinged as you never connected the favorable westward track to the precip veil, in other words it was a weak argument. As injected to you yesterday, the system is moving northward much faster than the models have been suggesting, therefore it will be swept Atlantic bound before your flattened OK high pressure occurs enough to influence the system. I agree that will happen but not quick enough to catch this system that will be likely going into the central gulf coast as the CMC has recently advertised. In fact, almost every model provided this solution on the 06Z runs. The art to the models is looking for the pattern of change as well as times.

    Good brief though

    • Levi says:

      I respect your opinion but retain my own.

      The precip shield argument was meant to illustrate that the GFS is all alone in shoving the energy northeastward, which is a known bias, and why I am favoring the other models. I presented other reasonings besides this in the last few posts as well.

      • Tutores says:

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  • Anonymous says:

    Where do you think this will landfall? And what conditions could we experience in Houston?

    • Levi says:

      With landfall still a few days out and the exact speed of the storm’s movement over the next few days uncertain, it is hard to pinpoint a landfall location. If Debby does not stall more than expected, a landfall in south Texas south of Port Lavaca seems likely.

    • Asher says:

      Works well! It is not obvious, thuogh. Will new users know to click on the yellow bubble or time stamp?Within the thread itself, perhaps you can put the same yellow bubble next to the title of the thread to keep things consistent? Maybe a yellow bubble with a down arrow?

  • Ss says:

    Whats up with that well defined swirl to the East of Florida? Don’t often see something like that in that area.

    • Levi says:

      The swirl south of Bermuda is an upper-level low.

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  • Gary Z says:

    The NHC agrees with you.
    Nice work as usual.
    How can two models be opposite like that?

  • Bill D says:

    I’ve lived here in SW Florida for the last fifteen years and enjoy tracking the storms ( you kind of have to here ). Usually when storms develop in the gulf this time of year they head towards Texas or La. It surprises me that Debbie being where she is at, wouldn’t head towards Fl. or at least north into Al. or Ms. It’s a track that I have never witness since I’ve lived here. I’m impressed that you stuck with the Texas answer even before it was an invest.
    Always watch your videos,Thank you for putting in the effort. It’s not just fun it helps with my work too.

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  • Agathorn says:


    I wanted to take a moment and say how much I appreciated your daily tidbits. As someone who is always fascinated by the science behind these things, but who doesn’t understand how any of it works, I find that your presentation of these tidbits is excellent. Much more fun to watch than some boring meteorologist who just dumbs everything down in such a way that I really don’t learn anything.

    The way you show what is happening and WHY it is happening, I always feel like i’m learning a little bit more each time, even though I probably aren’t 🙂


    • Travis says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks Levi!

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        This post reminded me of an unlteared incident that occurred when I was very small. Our smoke alarm went off, and I thought we would have to go to the top of the driveway and watch our house burn down. I gathered all my stuffed animals into my baby blanket, struggling to fit each one in the space, and they kept falling out. Luckily there was no fire, because I would have been running back inside to rescue my helpless animals and dolls.

  • Cliff Hammond says:

    Levi, I’m betting that your consistent forecast taking this system westward will eventually earn you the increased respect of your peers. Save all the documentation; this could serve as a great graduate thesis. Good luck. We’re pulling for you.

    • Lovely says:

      Stopping by from sits– My daughter had an MRI when she was six mtnohs old and it was the worst thing ever watching helplessly ad they pricked her four times trying to find a vein for the anesthesia ! You are right about that part being awful– I will pray that god gives the doctors and nurses wisdom and some comfort for you and your kiddo!

  • Anonymous says:

    Lot’s of talk now of an east landfall. Can you please give us your current thoughts based on what we’ve seen overnight?

  • EagleHarborZig says:


    I think it is interesting to note that currently North East Florida has felt the effects of two out of three of the named storms this year, and is on the way to feeling the effects of Debbie which will mean that 75% of the named storms in the 2012 season have effected NE Florida. Historically, this area has not seen many storms. Is this a new trend starting?

  • Shaun says:


    By all means, I meant nothing further from my comments than continual discussion. You are doing an excellent job with your post and analysis. Likewise, I respect your opinion as well otherwise, I wouldn’t be on here watching it. But again, never underestimate the pulling force of a shield of convection in relation to the parent low. Those shearing winds aloft, combined w/ the steady northward track is where the ECMWF didn’t accurately adjust the track. Obviously, this thing is about to make landfall and still yet some discrepancies in the models but at some point you have to ditch the models and use “real-time” data. It’s just too close to the Atlantic Seaboard Trof for that OK High to steer it at this point. Worst case scenario is a median between the two as the crazy CMC and now the ECMWF are taking it, into LA but at the end of the day impacts will be to FL and likely storm surging into LA.

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