You’ve likely seen the posts on Facebook.
There are the satellite images of a major hurricane with a well-defined eye sitting in the Gulf and the spaghetti models that show a storm moving toward the Gulf Coast region, with a possible landfall anywhere from Louisiana to Florida.
And while the forecast for Invest 98L is one to watch on the Mississippi Coast, there’s no need to panic, local weather officials say.
The tropical wave is currently in the Caribbean Sea and is expected to strengthen into a depression later this week. Conditions are favorable for development as it churns toward the Gulf later next week, and a “speed bump” from Fiona could lead to intensification.
“Invest 98L has the potential to become a strong hurricane, with light wind shear & very warm water temperatures ahead,” Weather Channel Meteorologist Scot Pilié said on Facebook Thursday morning. “Think about very hot oceanic heat content like high-octane fuel for an already well-running engine.”
And while the long range models say we’ll be dealing with a hurricane by next Thursday, it’s still far too soon to predict which states will be in the “cone of uncertainty.”
The National Hurricane Center still shows Invest 98L in the Caribbean over the next five days. Forecasts will ramp up once the storm is named and strengthened.
Pilié said there’s “high confidence” a tropical storm to hurricane will be in the Cayman Islands by Sunday, but there’s “very low confidence in track” after that.
“I’ve seen all the scary looking model runs 7-10 days out. At this point, we just have to take it a day at a time,” WLOX-TV Meteorologist Eric Jeannsone said Wednesday night. “There is high confidence there could be a storm in the western Caribbean by the end of the weekend. It’s too early to speculate anything specific beyond that.”
Pilié said the entire Gulf Coast should keep an eye on the system.
The “Eastern Gulf Coast from SE Louisiana to Florida appears to be the areas most at risk, but I would still watch in the western Gulf.”