SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Here is a Thursday tropical update from WLOX First Alert Meteorologist Wesley Williams:
There have been big changes in the tropical outlook. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is forecasting a hurricane to strike the Yucatan Peninsula next week.
The National Hurricane Center began issuing advisories on what is formally known as Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine (PTC Nine), as of Thursday afternoon. It is a low pressure system in the Atlantic Ocean, hundreds of miles east of the Caribbean Sea. It was moving to the west at about 17 miles per hour with maximum winds of 35 miles per hour.
The system does not have a name yet because it is not a hurricane, tropical storm, or tropical depression yet. NHC expects this system to develop into a depression or storm by Friday.
The next name on the list of 2017 Atlantic storm names is Harvey. There are three tropical disturbances that could develop by next week. But, since PTC Nine is the disturbance with the highest chance to develop on Thursday or Friday, PTC Nine will likely develop before any other disturbance and should take the name Harvey.
Trying not to get too lost in the hoopla about the name of this system, here's the bottom line:
A hurricane (probably named Harvey) will be pretty close the Gulf of Mexico next week as it strikes the Yucatan. It is impossible to know what will happen after the system strikes the Yucatan. Will it continue westward into Mexico like Franklin did earlier this year? Will it turn north toward the Gulf Coast? We do not know yet. So, it's pay attention time for Gulf Coast residents. While it is far too early to consider "Almost Harvey" as a direct threat to the MS Coast, we will not let our guard down.
Also, another tropical wave called "Invest 92L" was located just to the east of PTC Nine in the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday. is forecast to arrive in the Bahamas next week. We'll monitor that too since that will also be a close call with the Gulf. Again, no direct tropical threats to MS coast at this time.
So, stay tuned to WLOX First Alert Weather for the latest developments.
FYI, the National Hurricane Center uses the "potential tropical cyclone" title to allow them to issue warnings before a storm has even formed. This system is so close to the Caribbean Islands that if they waited six more hours for it to actually form before warning people about it, it could put lives at risk that could have been better prepared if they were warned.
Another example of something similar to this in government is how some states / towns along the total solar eclipse path have declared a "state of emergency" or "state of disaster" before the eclipse has even happened. It doesn't mean they expect a disaster... it just allows them to receive help from the National Guard to help with the extremely high volume of people that are expected to travel to their town to view the total solar eclipse.
Also, the word cyclone is defined as simply "a large scale air mass that rotates around a strong center of low atmospheric pressure." You may be thinking of the other use of the word cyclone which is used to describe tropical systems in the southern hemisphere near Australia.