The National Hurricane Center is currently watching Investigation 93, a low pressure area located in the northwestern Caribbean Sea, for likely development into a tropical storm (Idalia, pronounced ee-DAL-ya) and possibly a Category 1 hurricane in the next week before it makes landfall somewhere along the coast of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Since the storm is not at all organized at this point, there is quite a bit of variability in the ensemble of model forecasts, but they generally show that the storm is expected to track northeastward and make landfall somewhere along the NW Florida coast. From there it is likely to cut across SE Georgia before heading northeast across the Carolinas and into the Atlantic. These forecasts are likely to change over time as the storm becomes better organized, so don’t make final decisions based on this preliminary information. Generally the right side of the storm’s path has stronger winds, heavy rain, and isolated tornadoes while the left side of the track may have breezy conditions and some rain but the impacts there are more limited. Thus, the impacts you end up experiencing depend not only on where you are but also the final path of the storm, which is impossible to determine at this point.

Since the sea surface temperatures in the Gulf are very warm right now, they could increase the storm’s intensity, but that is being counteracted by a relatively quick forward speed and some wind shear aloft due to the current El Nino, so Idalia is not expected to grow to a strong storm before making landfall. That means the rainfall from Idalia could provide some drought relief in areas of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas that have been abnormally dry lately.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, there are several areas of interest that the National Hurricane Center is watching but none look like they will have any impact on the Southeast for the foreseeable future. The wave that is coming off of Africa could be of more interest as it moves west, but there is a long time to watch it before it is of any concern.

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