- Tropical Storm Laura is forecast to track into the Gulf of Mexico next week.
- But this forecast could have significant changes the next few days.
- The system could be a hurricane or it could dissipate.
The forecast for Tropical Storm Laura calls for the system to move into the Gulf of Mexico as a strong tropical storm or a hurricane by early next week. However, this projection is not as straightforward as it might seem.
A wide range of outcomes remains possible at this time, and residents of the Southeast U.S. should be alert for the possibility of significant forecast changes in the next few days.
First, a strong area of high pressure north of Tropical Storm Laura will keep it on a relatively fast west-northwestward track over the next several days.
Along the way, Laura will likely be pushed over at least one, if not several, speed bumps along the way.
This track could take Laura’s center of circulation over parts of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba this weekend. The more land Laura’s center tracks over, particularly given the island’s mountainous terrain, the more disrupted Laura could be.
But if Laura’s center manages to avoid significant land interaction, it could become stronger.
Sea-surface temperatures north of those islands are about 84 to 86 degrees, certainly warm enough to fuel a tropical storm’s intensification.
However, Laura may have to fight off dry air that could be pulled into this system, at times, which could also hamper the system’s strengthening.
If that wasn’t enough, vertical wind shear may be enough to inhibit strengthening, at times.
Based on all these factors, here are three scenarios depicted in various computer model forecast guidance:
1. Dry air, wind shear and/or land interaction could cause Laura to dissipate before reaching the Gulf of Mexico.
2. Laura could remain weak over the next few days due to some land interaction, dry air and wind shear, but then strengthen in the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s simply too early to know what, if any, impacts Laura might bring to the mainland United States. If this system does reach the U.S. mainland, it would not be until early to mid-next week.
This forecast remains extremely uncertain.
All interests along the Gulf Coast, including Florida, should monitor the forecast closely. Check weather.com for updates.
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