There’s Another Tropical Depression Now in the Gulf of Mexico
A storm system meteorologists have been keeping an eye on this week developed into a tropical depression on Thursday afternoon. A tropical depression is a storm that reaches sustained wind speeds of 38 miles per hour (mph).
The system developed on the same day that the Colorado State University hurricane forecast team revised its forecast upward, bringing up the number of predicted storms to be more in line with the average for hurricane seasons.
The storm will not impact the United States, as its projected path has it heading southward toward the eastern tip of Cuba. But the early storm formation appears to back up forecasts of an active season.
If it gets to Tropical Storm strength, it would be the first named storm of the year: Arlene.
El Nino in 2023
The imminent development of an El Nino weather pattern normally means that hurricane season might be less active, but sea surface temperatures are much warmer than originally predicted.
El Nino patterns typically form vertical wind shear - winds that can disrupt tropical systems from getting more organized and stronger. However, the sea temperatures mean less wind shear and also typically mean storms can gather more strength quickly.
That could mean stronger storms for Gulf Coast states, where more open waters mean more time for storms to get stronger.
This is the first time in recorded history that these high water temperatures have collided with an El Nino pattern in this way, and it has left many forecasters unsure of what the future holds.
All it takes, however, is just one major storm to bring about disaster, no matter what the other conditions at sea are.
"Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them," the latest Colorado State University hurricane forecast report states. "They need to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted."