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Weather Blog: Tropical Depression 13 forms in the Gulf

by Gene Norman / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on September 1, 2011 at 7:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 29 at 11:24 PM

The tropical wave we've been following for the past few days has intensified to a tropical depression and will likely become Tropical Storm Lee overnight or Friday . An Air Force reconnaissance plane flying into the mass of clouds in the central Gulf detected a low-level circulation and maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. Lee is centered about 280 miles southeast of Galveston. 

Now that we have some hard data on the center of the storm, computer models might get a better read on where the storm is headed. Throughout the week, they’ve offered different scenarios; some give us little to no rain and others douse us throughout the holiday weekend. One thing is certain – you should stay alert to the changing weather conditions because they could change rapidly and with little notice.  Even though the current track shows the system headed for Louisiana, this could and likely will change.

Notice how wide the orange "cone of uncertainty" is. That’s due to the fact that computer models are still coming up with different solutions. At the National Hurricane Center, forecasters look at the models to determine which ones provide the most realistic outcomes and the cone represents possibilities that include a majority of the model solutions. So what should you do this weekend? If you live along the coast, primarily along and south of I-10, you should prepare for periods of light to moderate rain and steady east and northeast winds. This could heighten the threat of rip currents, so if your holiday plans include a trip to Galveston, be aware of the swimming conditions posted by lifeguards. 

Of all weather phenomenon, a tropical storm is the most unpredictable and this one even more so because upper-level steering conditions are currently weak. So it may meander along the upper-Gulf coast between Texas and Louisiana for several days and may not make a landfall. Some of the models even develop Lee into a hurricane headed toward New Orleans by Labor Day. Again, the bottom line is to stay alert and stay tuned to KHOU 11 News and khou.com.

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