A disturbance over the Gulf of Mexico that meteorologists have been monitoring for over a week developed into Tropical Depression 22 on Thursday, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. The tropical depression is located about 235 miles east of Tampico, Mexico, 330 miles southeast of the mouth of the Rio Grande and is crawling northeast at just 3 mph.
The system could further strengthen into the next named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season at any time over the next couple of days. The next storm to form will be given the name Wilfred, the last name on the season’s designated list before Greek letters will be used to identify tropical storms.
If the system strengthens further and becomes named, it would become the earliest-21st named storm on record in the Atlantic basin, beating out Vince, which formed on Oct. 8, 2005, according to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University. An unnamed storm identified in post-season analysis of the 2005 season is the reason that Wilfred could break the record of a storm that starts with the letter “V,” Klotzbach said.
|This image, captured during Thursday morning, Sept.17, 2020, shows a broad area of disturbed weather producing showers and thunderstorms over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. This system became Tropical Depression 22 early Thursday evening. (CIRA at Colorado State/GOES-East)|
Weak steering breezes could result in the budding tropical system to remain nearly stationary or meander over the western Gulf of Mexico over the next few days. It is quite possible that this system could become known as “wandering Wilfred.”
A slow-moving storm such as this can disrupt oil and gas production in the western Gulf of Mexico for several days, AccuWeather meteorologists warned.
But, at some point this weekend to early next week, the system will begin to move. The storm could take a path toward the coast of Mexico or toward the northwestern or central part of the United States Gulf Coast.
“We are getting to the time of the year where it is difficult, due to prevailing steering winds, for tropical systems to move onshore in Texas,” according to AccuWeather’s top hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski.
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