Friday Afternoon Update: Don has it's sights on the Texas coast and should make landfall late tonight or very early tomorrow morning. Winds are still at 50 mph, but slight strengthening is possible before the center of the storm moves over the coastline.
Tropical Storm force winds extend 105 miles from Don's center, but it's current track keeps it far enough South where we'll only see activity from the outermost rain bands. Still, shower activity has already begun on our Southeastern counties, and is heading this way.
Rain chances will increase over the next several hours before Don moves onshore. Rain chances still look to be in the neighborhood of 40% this afternoon and evening.
Friday Morning Update: Don is poised to make landfall late tonight between Brownsville and Corpus Christi. The good news is that outer rain bands have stretched as far as Beaumont, and they're heading for the Brazos Valley. The question at this point is whether or not they will hold together or whether the ridge of high pressure will squash our rain chances when they move inland. If they hold, we could see around an inch of much-needed rain in many locations.
Winds are currently blowing at 50 mph, and with moderate vertical wind shear in the Gulf, it shouldn't be able to strengthen before making landfall tonight.
Thursday Evening Update: Don has strengthened a bit more today (winds are now up to 50 mph) , but unfortunately it's track has shifted further South. That means less rain for us, but it doesn't mean no rain.
Best chance at shower activity still looks to be Friday evening, with Don now expected to make landfall South of Corpus Christi. While rainfall totals won't be great, anything will be welcome at this point!
Thursday Morning Update: Hurricane Hunters took another look at Tropical Storm Don and found that it had strengthened a bit overnight. Winds are now up to 45 mph
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Texas coast from Port Mansfield to San Luis Pass and a Tropical Storm Watch extends from South of Port Mansfield to the Rio Grande River.
Tropical Storm force winds extend only 60 miles from the storm's center, so Don is still a small system. Around 3 inches of rain are expected in the vicinity of where the storm makes landfall, and hopefully that will be closer to the San Luis Pass than Port Mansfield!
The track has shifted a little further South (unfortunately), so our chances of that 3 inch rainfall are much less likely. We could still see some shower activity from the system and any rain at this point is good rain!
Wednesday Evening Update: A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the Texas coast from Port Mansfield Northward to West of San Luis Pass.
A Tropical Storm Watch means that Tropical Storm conditions are possible within the next 48 hours. Don's winds remain near 40 mph, but some strengthening is possible before landfall. This storm is not expected to reach hurricane strength.
Wednesday Afternoon Update:Tropical Storm Don has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, with winds of 40 mph associated with this storm.
The system was investigated by Air Force Hurricane Hunters this afternoon. They found a closed circulation and surface winds of 40 mph, meeting the criteria for a weak Tropical Storm. It is not expected to strengthen into a hurricane, but it could become a bit stronger before making landfall.
More importantly, where is it going? At this time the Texas coastline still looks to be Don's final destination, but models still differ greatly on where exactly the storm will go. With stronger hurricanes, you've heard us say that the exact point where it makes landfall isn't important, because damage can extend many miles from the center. It's a bit different this time, because Don is such a small storm and in this case, we really want the rain from it.
At this time, it looks like it will hit to our Southwest, likely near the Corpus Christi area, but the location of our high pressure ridge will be the deciding factor here. If it's further East, it will steer Don towards the upper Texas coast. If it's further West, the lower Texas coast will likely be the target.
With each passing run of the models, it seems that our odds for rain are improving by the hour! Early this morning, a system near Cuba caught the attention of National Hurricane Center forecasters, but they weren't convinced it would come to much within the next 48 hours. This evening, there's already a 40% chance that this disturbance will become a Tropical Depression before the weekend.
In many ways, it's better for us if it doesn't develop into anything further than a tropical disturbance, which is just a cluster of loosely organized showers and thunderstorms. If we can keep that and just steer it right towards the upper Texas coast, we'll be sitting pretty to get some nice rain without the damaging winds. While many of the models have started to track the system further East, many still want to take it more toward the Brownsville/Corpus Christi area.
While still relatively unlikely at this point, there's also the chance that a Tropical Storm could develop before it hits the coast.
Even the model with the strongest intensity forecast is not bringing this to hurricane status, but Tropical Storms can bring flooding and pretty gusty winds, so it's something we're going to watch closely over the next few days.