Another Potential Hurricane May Hit the US This Weekend
The 2017 hurricane season is not over, and it's already on track to be the costliest ever. That's even topping the 2005 hurricane season that rocked the US with Katrina, Wilma and Rita, causing over $211 billion of damage. While we have made it past the peak of the 2017 season, there are almost two more months before it's over.
And now, the United States is in the crosshairs of another potential hurricane, after Harvey flooded Houston and South Texas and Maria devastated Puerto Rico.
At 11am Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that Tropical Depression 16 formed in the Southwest Caribbean, just off of the coast of Nicaragua. Usually storms this far south aren't an immediate concern to the US. However, a mid-tropospheric trough is expected to steer the storm toward the Gulf Coast in a hurry.
The consensus track has the storm making landfall on the Florida panhandle midday Sunday. The current forecast predicts 80 mph top sustained winds at landfall. While these winds are barely hurricane strength, the storm's northward speed could cause significant storm surge to the east of the storm.
However, don't take this forecast as fact. Due to the storm being in early development, the NHC notes a "fair bit of model spread for now". Also, the storm will be passing over some very warm water, and we've seen quite a few storms explode from a tropical storm to a major hurricane in a matter of days.
The NHC takeaway:
The system is forecast to continue strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico and could affect portions of the northern Gulf Coast as a hurricane this weekend, with direct impacts from wind, storm surge, and heavy rainfall. However, it is too early to specify the timing or magnitude of these impacts. Residents along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida should monitor the progress of this system for the next several days and heed any advice given by local officials.
Flights in/out of Central America could start seeing effects over the next few days. But, it's too early to say what impact this storm will have on US flights. However, two major hubs, Atlanta (ATL) and Charlotte (CLT), are in the middle of the current forecast area. We could see reduced operations both Sunday and Monday. So, plan any time-sensitive travel accordingly.