A tropical disturbance has entered the Caribbean Sea, but forecasters on Thursday said it is too early to say if it will eventually reach the Gulf of Mexico or be a threat to Louisiana.
If it were to enter the Gulf, the threat to the Gulf Coast is still more than seven days away, according to Hannah Lisney, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Slidell.
Related: Things you can do now to prepare for hurricane season
The system is expected to develop into a tropical depression in a few days, forecasters said, and will most likely be named Hermine if it strengthens into a tropical storm.
Now is the time for residents to review their hurricane plans and make sure their supply kits are prepared in case there’s a threat to Louisiana, forecasters said.
5 systems in the tropics
Hurricane forecasters on Thursday are tracking five systems in the Atlantic and Caribbean:
- Disturbances in the Caribbean
- Hurricane Fiona
- Tropical Storm Gaston
- Disturbance off the coast of Africa
- Disturbance in the Atlantic
Hurricane Fiona, Tropical Storm Gaston and the disturbance off Africa’s coast don’t pose a threat to Louisiana. It’s too early to accurately say where the Caribbean disturbance could go if it develops.
The next storm names are Hermine, Ian and Julia if any of the disturbances strengthen into a tropical storm.
Here’s what to know about the tropics as of 11 am Thursday from the National Hurricane Center.
Disturbance in the Caribbean
The Caribbean disturbance is currently called Invest 98-L and continues to show signs of organization, according to the 7 am Thursday forecast from the National Hurricane Center.
The system was producing showers and thunderstorms over the southeastern Caribbean Sea early Thursday, forecasters said.
Environmental conditions are inhibiting development early Thursday, forecasters said, but that’s supposed to change “in a couple of days” and a tropical depression is likely to form then.
It has a 70% chance of developing into a tropical depression within 48 hours and a 90% chance of developing within five days.
Read the full outlook.
Where is the Caribbean system going?
The disturbance is expected to move northwest for the next day or two and reach the central Caribbean by the weekend, forecasters said.
It will bring heavy rainfall and gusty winds to parts of the Windward Islands, Venezuela and the ABC island chain on Thursday, regardless of development, meteorologists said.
It’s too early to tell if the system could reach the Gulf of Mexico and eventually be a threat to Louisiana.
If it were to enter the Gulf, forecasters said Thursday, the immediate threat to the Gulf Coast is still more than seven days away.
The shaded area on the National Hurricane Center graphic is where a storm could develop and is not a track. Hurricane forecasters release a track when a tropical depression forms or is about to form. The track shows where the storm could go within five days.
Long-range models not reliable this far out
The internet has been buzzing this week with the various scenarios for the system, mainly based on long-range computer forecasts.
These models show predictions up to 16 days in advance and change frequently. They are not reliable at forecasting landfall 7 to 10 days in the future.
However, they offer scenarios about what could happen. Some of the long-range model runs from the Global Forecast System have shown the system entering the Gulf of Mexico next week. But, it’s too far in the future to predict anything accurately.
Forecasts will become more reliable if the disturbance actually forms.
‘We get the anxiety’
Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Slidell said they understand “the anxiety people are feeling” about the possibility of a storm, but reiterated that it is too early to panic.
A good way to handle the anxiety, they said, is to stay informed but try not to focus on possible worst-case scenarios.
Also, take action by making a plan and gathering storm supplies ahead of a potential threat, they said.
Here’s our beginner’s guide for hurricane season.
Plus, here are things you can be doing now to prepare.
And here’s a list of 60+ non-perishable items to consider for your emergency kit.
Hurricane Fiona heads to Bermuda, Canada
Hurricane Fiona, a “large and powerful” Category 4 storm in the Atlantic, is heading towards Bermuda and eventually Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
The hurricane is not expected to make landfall on the US mainland.
As of 1 pm, it was about 410 miles southwest of Bermuda and about 1,165 miles southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It’s moving northeast at 15 mph and is expected to approach Bermuda on Thursday and Canada late Friday.
The storm has been blamed for directly causing at least four deaths in its march through the Caribbean, where winds and torrential rain in Puerto Rico left a majority of people on the US territory without power or running water.
See the full advisory with current watches and warnings.
Tropical Storm Gaston in the Atlantic
Tropical Storm Gaston is expected to bring gusty winds and heavy rain to the Azores this week.
It does not pose a threat to the US
As of 10 am, Tropical Storm Gaston was about 315 miles northwest of the central Azores and was moving northeast at 21 mph.
It has winds of 65 mph, and gradual weakening is expected over the next few days.
Read the full advisory.
2 other Atlantic disturbances
Hurricane forecasters are also tracking two other systems in the Atlantic.
One by the west coast of Africa could develop into a tropical depression by this weekend and then head north, forecasters said. It does not pose a threat to the US
Some development is also possible for a disturbance in the Atlantic by the Cape Verde Islands. The system is expected to move slowly northwest over the Atlantic.
Read the full outlook.
So far, there have been seven named storms this season – Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona and Gaston. The next available name is Hermine.
Hurricane season ends Nov. 30, but storms can form any time.
The categories, in order of increasing strength, are tropical depression, tropical storm and hurricane (categories 1 through 5). A system is named when it develops into a tropical storm.
On the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, the wind categories are:
- Tropical depression: up to 38 mph
- Tropical storm: 39 to 73 mph
- Category 1 hurricane: 74 to 95 mph
- Category 2 hurricane: 96 to 110 mph
- Category 3 hurricane (major hurricane): 111 to 129 mph
- Category 4 hurricane: 130-156 mph
- Category 5 hurricane: 157 mph and higher
What to do now
Now is the time to review hurricane plans and make sure your property is ready for hurricane season.
Here are some tips from the National Weather Service for how to prepare for the season:
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