Depression forecast to form in Gulf soon, bring heavy rain to Florida Panhandle this week

·3 min read

After a punishing hurricane season last year, the Gulf Coast could be in for even more drenching rain later this week.

The National Hurricane Center is tracking a disturbance over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico that is forecast to head toward Louisiana, Mississippi and Northwest Florida later this week — possibly as a tropical or subtropical depression — and bring upwards of 7 inches of rain. Some parts of Louisiana could see up to 8 or 10 inches of rain.

The disturbance, which was producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms in southern Mexico, is forecast to head north soon, according to the hurricane center’s 2 p.m. Thursday advisory. Forecasters say it will likely turn into a depression late Thursday or early Friday as it moves across the western Gulf of Mexico.

The system has a 90% chance of formation in the next 48 hours, according to the hurricane center. An Air Force Reserve Unit reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the area Thursday afternoon, if necessary.

“A tropical storm warning will likely be required for a portion of the northern Gulf Coast later this afternoon,” forecasters said.

Florida Father’s Day forecast

While South Florida has been drenched with rain and flood watch advisories the past few days, Father’s Day weekend will be drier because of high pressure and Saharan dust limiting moisture, said WSVN Meteorologist Vivian Gonzalez.

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Northwest Florida, however, is forecast to see a breezy Father’s Day weekend, with heavy rain and marine and beach type hazards, including life-threatening rip currents, according to the National Weather Service in Tallahassee.

The bad weather will be influenced by the system in the Gulf of Mexico.

The forecast is calling for most of the Panhandle to see between 3 to 6 inches of rain Friday through Tuesday, with some areas possibly seeing more rain, according to the weather service. There are also some flood concerns.

“Heavy rain on Saturday will affect the FL Panhandle and Southeast Alabama, raising concerns for flooding. There is now a Slight Risk of Excessive Rainfall on Saturday over Walton, Geneva, and Coffee Counties, with a Marginal Risk further east,” including in Panama City.

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A high risk rip current advisory was issued Thursday for Walton, Bay, Gulf, and Franklin County Beaches, with dangerous rip currents possible through late Sunday. A high risk rip current and high surf advisory, with large breaking waves of up to 6 or 8 feet, will also be in effect for Escambia Coastal, Santa Rosa Coastal and Okaloosa Coastal counties through the weekend.

At the moment, the hurricane center isn’t expecting the disturbance to strengthen into a tropical storm. If it did, the system would be the third named storm of the season. Tropical Storm Bill sputtered out late Tuesday.

NOAA’s latest prediction suggests the Atlantic is in for 13 to 20 named storms. Two have already occurred. The next name on the list is Claudette.

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