Could the Gulf have its first tropical storm of the year soon?
It appeared increasingly likely, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Forecasters on Saturday evening said a large area of disturbed weather in the northwest Caribbean — Invest 93L — was showing signs of organization and would “likely” become a tropical or subtropical depression or storm early next week after it moves into the southern Gulf of Mexico.
An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to fly into the area on Sunday.
The hurricane center on Saturday increased the chances of a depression or storm forming to 80 percent over the next five days. That’s up from 70 percent earlier Saturday.
Forecasters said a broad area of low pressure had formed in the northwestern Caribbean, and its associated rain and storms were looking more organized.
Named storm or not, the disturbance will bring heavy rain to parts of Central America, the Yucatan, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and parts of Cuba over the next few days, the hurricane center said.
According to former hurricane center Director Dr. Rick Knabb, history suggests it wouldn’t strengthen into a hurricane:
And it may not affect Alabama’s Gulf Coast, according to the National Weather Service in Mobile.
Forecasters there said it was too early to say if the system could affect the Alabama coast, since its path and intensity are so uncertain.
The weather service said the system will be watched very closely as it emerges into the Gulf.
The Caribbean isn’t the only area with a potential tropical storm on its hands.
The hurricane center was also monitoring another tropical wave, Invest 92L, that on Saturday evening was located about 1,300 miles east-southeast of the Windward Islands.
That system showed signs of organization on Friday but hasn’t strengthened more since, according to the hurricane center.
The hurricane center gave 92L a 60 percent chance of development over the next five days. That’s down from 70 percent earlier Saturday.
Invest 92L was expected to continue to track to the west-northwest at 15-20 mph.
The hurricane center said the environment would become less favorable for strengthening by next week.
A tropical storm developing that far east would be a first during this point in June. According to the hurricane center there hasn’t been a storm on record to develop in that area from June 11-20:
There’s already been one tropical storm this year, Arlene, which formed in April. The next name on the storm list is Bret, followed by Cindy.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs through Nov. 30.