Tropical Storm Gamma Near Hurricane Strength in the Northwestern Caribbean and Expected to Enter Gulf of Mexico

Published in 3 October, 2020

At a Glance

  • Tropical Storm Gamma is intensifying near Mexico, Belize.

  • Flooding rain is possible in parts of Mexico and Central America the next several days.

  • A second tropical wave is also being monitored for possible development as it tracks westward through the Caribbean Sea.

  • The western Caribbean is a favored area for tropical development in October.

Tropical Storm Gamma is intensifying and expected to be a flooding rain threat to parts of Mexico and Cuba as the Caribbean Sea remains busy with tropical activity. Here’s the latest on the two active systems in the Caribbean. Tropical Storm Gamma Tropical Storm Gamma is spreading showers and thunderstorms from western Cuba to parts of Mexico and continues to strengthen. Gamma is approaching hurricane strength as it nears the eastern portion of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. A hurricane warning has been issued for the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from north of Punta Allen to Cancún, including Cozumel. Hurricane conditions could occur near the immediate coast near landfall today. Tropical storm warnings have been issued for portions of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula from Punta Herrero to Dzilam on either side of the hurricane warning. Tropical storm conditions are spreading into parts of the warning areas. Tropical storm watches have also been issued elsewhere on the Yucatan peninsula where tropical storm conditions are possible later Saturday and Sunday.
With a lack of shearing winds and deep, warm water, additional intensification is likely until it makes landfall. Slight weakening is anticipated after landfall due to land interaction, with fluctuations in intensity possible depending on how much land interaction Gamma will undergo.
It is currently expected that this system will reach the southern Gulf of Mexico on Sunday or Monday. From there, the track is expected to move west or southwestward in the Gulf of Mexico or Bay of Campeche as a ridge of high pressure will likely build to its north over parts of the Gulf of Mexico. The recent trend has been for a more southern track through the Bay of Campeche. While not an immediate, apparent threat, it’s too soon to rule out any eventual U.S. Gulf Coast impact. For now, all interests in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, western Cuba and Belize should monitor the progress of this system. Second Caribbean System The other disturbance is a tropical wave that is moving across the eastern and central Caribbean Sea. This tropical wave is bringing locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds to parts of the Lesser Antilles, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and parts of the coasts of Colombia and Venezuela.
This disturbance will continue to push westward over the next several days and conditions are expected to become a bit more conducive for development. This area has a medium chance of becoming a tropical depression next week as it tracks across the central and western Caribbean Sea into the southern Gulf of Mexico. It’s too soon to determine if this system will develop, where it might track and how strong it may become. Interests in the western Caribbean should monitor the progress of this system. Flood Threat This setup could lead to dangerous flash flooding in parts of eastern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Rainfall totals of 4-8 inches are expected in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and far western Cuba, with up to 15 inches of rain locally possible. Very heavy rainfall is also possible in southern Mexico, including rainfall totals locally up to 20 inches. Landslides are possible in mountainous terrain. Also, moisture-laden winds on the eastern flank of the tropical storm intercepting a stalled frontal boundary could wring out heavy rain in parts of the Florida Peninsula, leading to flooding which may also combine with high astronomical tides. There could be localized rainfall totals of 3 to 5 inches farther inland from the coast as far north and east as the ArkLaTex Region and the lower Mississippi Valley through the end of the week. This rainfall could produce localized flash flooding in these areas. It’s important to note that not every location in the areas mentioned above will see rainfall amounts this high or flooding.
Even though the climatological peak of the hurricane season – Sept. 10 – has passed, residents along the Gulf and East coasts need to remain prepared for a hurricane. Roughly one-fifth of all U.S. hurricane landfalls have occurred in October and November.

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