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Hurricane 'Debby' Developing; Take Aim on Gulf Coast

By Brian Edwards, Meteorologist

A system could spin up just about anywhere in the mass of clouds over the Caribbean and southern Gulf of Mexico.

AccuWeather.com meteorologists continue to monitor low pressure near the Yucatan which is expected to become "Debby" this weekend.

According to Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski, "There is a slight chance this feature could become a tropical depression as early as tonight. However, we feel this system will become better organized this weekend and should become Tropical Storm Debby later Saturday or on Sunday."

Interestingly enough, there has never been a fourth named storm in June. Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski has more information in this story.

Debby, once an organized tropical entity, will take a northward jog this weekend into the central Gulf of Mexico, where it will have ample opportunity to strengthen.

The waters over the Gulf of Mexico are warm enough to sustain a tropical system. Along with that, the winds in the upper parts of the atmosphere or what meteorologists call "wind shear" are relatively light.

Kottlowski also stated that "The combination of low shear and warm water will support strengthening of this storm into a depression then a tropical storm this weekend. If the storm can avoid shear, it will probably become a hurricane early next week."

(Image taken the afternoon of June 22, 2012.)

As the system is organizing this weekend, tropical moisture will stream northward into the eastern Gulf and parts of the Florida Peninsula.

Torrential rains could fall from Naples and Fort Myers through Tampa and Orlando this weekend while creating rough surf and poor beach weather for many.

The heavy rains could then expand northward into Jacksonville, Pensacola and Gainesville on Sunday as the storm continues to develop and drift through the Gulf.

Where Will Debby Track?
Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski states that "The movement of this developing storm will be highly influenced by the strengthening of a large upper-level high pressure area now over the southwest United States and a large dip in the jet stream that extends into the Gulf of Mexico."

The interaction of Debby with one of these features will ultimately determine which direction it tracks early next week.

Should Debby become picked up by the aforementioned dip in the jet stream, it would track into northern Florida. However, if it misses that connection, it's possible that the system will stall out off the Florida coast for a while.

Another scenario is that Debby misses the dip in the jet stream and gets shoved back westward toward Texas as a large area of high pressure builds over the Plains states. The flow around that ridge could send Debby southwestward toward the coast of Texas or even far northern Mexico.

The bottom line is that until this system develops into an organized tropical entity, confidence on the exact track remains on the low side.

Still, we are certain about a few things.
1) There will be development of an organized tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico this weekend.
2) It will drift slowly northward over the weekend, bringing a plume of heavy rains into parts of Florida.
3) Conditions are favorable for further strengthening and it is possible that this system will become Tropical Storm Debby by later Saturday or Sunday.

Residents along the Gulf Coast and throughout the Southeast part of the country are urged to keep an eye on this developing tropical system.

Regardless of which way the feature heads, rough surf and dangerous rip tides will develop over the weekend along much of this region.

Stay tuned to AccuWeather.com as we continue to track the potential for our next named storm. The AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center has more information on the tropics.

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