HOLT, Fla., Aug. 26, 2021—A major hurricane striking the northern Gulf coast is possible this weekend.
According to the National Hurricane Center, newly formed Tropical Depress Nine is forecast to rapidly strengthen and intensify as it moves northwest over the Gulf of Mexico and could approach the northern Gulf coast as a major hurricane Sunday.
There is a risk of life-threatening storm surge, damaging hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall Sunday and Monday along the northern Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to the upper Texas coast, with the greatest risk along the coast of Louisiana, according to the NHC.
A landfall west of Florida puts the Panhandle on the east side of the storm where more severe weather impacts such as heavy rain, wind and tornadoes likely occur.
Impacts to this area, if any, will depend on the size and strength of the storm, and where it finally makes landfall.
As TD9 makes its trek northwest, it’s forecast to develop into Tropical Storm Ida today or tonight and could approach hurricane strength as it passes near or over western Cuba tomorrow.
Some shifts in the track are likely until the system becomes better defined, according to the NHC.
Caribbean waters where TD9 will travel over during the next 24-36 hours are extremely warm. This, combined with low wind shear and a moist environment is expected to allow for steady strengthening.
Once the system moves into the Gulf of Mexico, conditions are expected to become favorable for additional strengthening and rapid intensification.
The HNC intensity forecast brings the system near major hurricane strength when it approaches the northern Gulf coast Sunday.
An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance mission is scheduled to be in the system later this afternoon to provide more information on the system’s structure and intensity, according to the NHC.
The two areas of interest in the Atlantic Ocean still appear to remain at sea, regardless of formation.
Both could develop into tropical depressions by the weekend, according to the NHC.