The Gulf Coast is getting ready for a tropical storm that hasn’t quite formed yet
Cindy, is that you?
“Potential Tropical Cyclone Three” in the central Gulf of Mexico may be renamed “Tropical Storm Cindy” later Tuesday, if it develops a well-defined center of circulation — the threshold it needs to pass to attain an easier name.
But tropical storm watches and warnings have already been issued for portions of the Gulf Coast. That was done Monday afternoon, even though there wasn’t yet a named storm.
New policies in place at the National Hurricane Center now allow forecasters to issue full advisories — including a forecast track and watches and warnings — for storms that could form and impact land within 48 hours.
In the past, even if the hurricane center thought a system had a high chance of developing, it couldn’t issue watches and warnings. This new policy allows residents and businesses to have more time to prepare for storms that form near the coast.
Even if it’s not a hurricane, it will still pack a punch
So far, “Potential Tropical Cyclone Three” has winds of 40 mph, but Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft were unable to find a well-defined center of circulation, which keeps it from being a named storm. If and when that center develops, the storm will be named Tropical Storm Cindy.
The system is moving to the northwest and should reach the coast by late Wednesday. However, residents all along the Gulf Coast are being urged not to focus on the exact track of the storm. Strong wind shear — the change in wind direction and speed with height — in the region will keep the system on the weaker side.
With weaker storms, the center is far less important, but the heavy rainfall is projected to have a widespread impact. Many areas will receive 4 to 8 inches of rain, with some places topping a foot. The most torrential rain is likely to be to the east of the center of the storm, because these areas will see a prolonged period of onshore flow.
Having two named storms simultaneously in June is a rarity
If Cindy forms, it will be one of two storms. Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Bret formed on Monday. Much like “Potential Tropical Cyclone Three,” there were watches and warnings in place before Bret was named.
Bret impacted Trinidad and Tobago with heavy rain Monday night and continued to affect the northern coast of Venezuela. This southern track is relatively rare.
The southern Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao are under a tropical storm watch. The storm will impact these areas Tuesday night into early Wednesday.
The good news for anyone vacationing in the southern Caribbean is that Bret is scurrying along and the effects will be short-lived. The fast movement, combined with dry air from land and high wind shear over the Caribbean should lead to the dissipation of the storm during the middle of the week.
CNN Meteorologist Judson Jones and CNN’s Alanne Orjoux contributed to this story