As of this post, Tropical Depression 16 is forecast to become Tropical Storm Nate by tonight. Thankfully, it overwhelmingly appears that a continually strengthening future-Hurricane Nate will be safely pushed away from our region by a strong cold front. That's great news for southeast Texas, still reeling from the flooding of Hurricane Harvey in late August. Folks on the Florida Panhandle are likely to see some rough weather this weekend, so if you have any travel plans to the beaches this is your heads-up.
Once the autumn cold fronts start coming, it becomes progressively more difficult for hurricanes to directly impact our region. Because of that, the latest known hurricane to strike Houston was on October 15-16, 1986 with Jerry. Climatologically-speaking, with each passing day we get closer and closer to being home free. The Atlantic basin's hurricane season doesn't end until November 30th, but for Houston we're essentially good to go a full month earlier, thanks to those fronts.
That said, tropical systems are inherently unpredictable due to their very nature so future-Nate will have to be tracked carefully. They're like sport motorcycles: engines capable of revving high with little warning -- some rapidly intensifying from 'nothing' to a major hurricane in less than two days. Compounding these intensity forecast shortcomings, weak global steering currents (common in the tropics during summer and early-fall) can make hurricane forecasting even more tough. It becomes like trying to predict the exact path of a spinning a top on a rough table -- and guessing when it will finally fall down. You can make a rough estimate as to where it may wobble, but you'll ultimately never really know where it's going until it's there.
World's largest spinning top pic.twitter.com/lrBEDZRObq— Gautam Trivedi (@Gotham3) October 2, 2017
Nate will be more predicable than other storms, thanks to deep steering currents which will pick it up and send it away before it can wobble toward Texas. This system will also have a faster forward track thanks to those strong currents, which should limit its time over water, slowing any rapid strengthening potential. Its forward motion and slightly drier air to its west should limit the worst winds/weather to a smaller zone on its east side. As far as hurricanes go, while there will be some damage, it doesn't look at this time like it'll be a historic system. That said, if you're in its path, you only have four days to prepare before landfall.
Stick with KHOU 11 News for updates all week. We'll also look forward to the first true fall cold front next week!