The 10 pm coordinates for Helene place it 125 miles southeast of Tampico. Through the evening, I've noticed two things: the convection (thunderstorm activity) has increased east of the center, where previously there wasn't much. Second, it's forward speed has picked up; now moving northwest at 7 mph. The 10 pm position shows it as a very weak storm with maximum winds dropping to 40 mph. However, it is still over very warm Gulf water with high pressure aloft. That means it could strengthen Saturday and needs to be watched.
Here's tonight's 10 pm forecast track from the hurricane center:
The forecast has it spending most of Saturday just off the Mexican coast before making a landfall north of Tampico late in the day. Then it remains a broad area of low pressure slowly working its way northward toward Brownsville.
As tropical storms go, Helene is fairly weak, but it has the potential to deposit substantial rain to south and southeast Texas. With systems in the Gulf, its like real estate - location, location, location. Helene is drifting within a fairly weak upper-level wind flow; so there's little steering it. At the same time, a rare August cool front has come to a halt across the middle of Texas. So Houston will be caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Storms that fire along the stalled front will drift southward toward us while the moisture from Helene surges up from the Gulf.
There's even an outside, and I want to stress "outside" chance that Helene could linger for more than a day before making a Mexican coast landfall. The more it stays over water, though, the greater the chance that it could strengthen. Even if it did, a northward move would be limited thanks to the stalled out front.
Stay tuned to KHOU 11 on TV and mobile all weekend for the latest on Helene and don't forget to get the KHOU Weather App. There you'll find the Gulf Watch section which has everything tropical.