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Tropical downpours to eye storm-weary Gulf Coast as Ida recovery continues

By Courtney Travis, Accuweather.com
Tropical downpours to eye storm-weary Gulf Coast as Ida recovery continues
The U.S. Coast Guard conducts Hurricane Ida post-storm overflights along the Gulf Coast on Monday. Aircrews conducted overflights near Galliano, La., to assess damage and identify hazards. Photo by U.S. Coast Guard/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Residents of the Gulf Coast region were just beginning a slow recovery from Hurricane Ida nearly a week after the storm delivered a devastating blow to the region, and AccuWeather meteorologists were warning that another potential tropical threat could unload more rain on the flood-weary region this week.

As the statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, Friday, approaches, AccuWeather's team of tropical weather experts continues to monitor the basin for tropical activity in the wake of Ida. Hurricane Larry is currently roaming the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean, but direct impacts from the system are projected to remain away from the U.S. However, a tropical feature closer to U.S. soil has also grabbed forecasters' attention as an area to watch.

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"The tropical disturbance will move over the Bay of Campeche and southwestern Gulf of Mexico, where warm waters there will foster some opportunity for development early in the week," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Randy Adkins.

Despite the warmer waters, AccuWeather meteorologists predict the tropical disturbance will have a limited opportunity to strengthen into a more defined tropical feature due to strong wind shear in the region as well.

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"The greatest chance of development is likely to be over the central and northern Gulf of Mexico during the middle days of this week, but fortunately, rapid strengthening is not likely in this situation," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

"A very weak circulation center may be trying to form along the northern coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula," Sosnowski added on Sunday.

Regardless of development or not, impact is expected to spread northward to the central Gulf coast as the week progresses.

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"Even without developing into a more organized tropical system, much of this feature's moisture is expected to reach the Gulf Coast by the middle of the week," added Adkins.

Through the middle of the week, a widespread 2-4 inches of rain could fall, with locally higher amounts possible. The excess tropical moisture could bring heavier-than-normal downpours to much of the region, between the southeastern Texas Gulf Coast and the Florida Panhandle. An inch or so of heavy rain may come down in just a couple of hours in some areas.

The direction of the tropical low's path and the exact focus of its heavy rain will be determined by the strength of the wind shear over the Gulf of Mexico.

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"It's not a guarantee that the heaviest rain will track near those hardest hit by Ida in Louisiana and Mississippi," explained Adkins, adding a shift in the low's track to the west or east could spare the waterlogged areas of central Gulf Coast.

"There is some indication, that the batch of heavy rain, along with a center of low pressure may migrate eastward along the upper Gulf coast at midweek and then perhaps across northern Florida from Thursday to Friday," Sosnowski added.

This central portion of the Gulf Coast is still reeling from Hurricane Ida, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday, Aug. 29, in Louisiana.

Cleanup and electricity-restoration efforts are likely to be hampered should another dose of heavy rain hit the region. Additionally, rivers and streams will likely be even slower to recede. Floodwaters that had just waned could rise more quickly than normal, due to saturated soil in the region.

Residents and aid volunteers should be sure to stay alert for changing weather conditions through the middle of the week.

Hurricane Ida is the fourth hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana in just over a year, joining the ranks of hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta from the historic 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

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