TROPICAL STORM NATE – A First Look
Spiraling and gathering strength in the southern Gulf of Mexico is TROPICAL STORM NATE, the latest named storm of the 2011 hurricane season.
As of the latest public advisory, TROPICAL STORM NATE is about 120 miles west of Campeche, Mexico, and 175 miles northeast of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. The tropical cyclone has maximum sustained winds of 45 knots (60 mph) with gusts to 55 knots. The storm’s minimum central pressure is 1000 mb.
The exact path of TROPICAL STORM NATE is still a bit of a mystery. While the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, has the storm curving to the north and then northwest, its forecast position after Friday morning is going to be anybody’s guess. As you can see in the second image, depending on which computer model you use it appears that TROPICAL STORM NATE could strike Mobile, Alabama or central Louisiana in the U.S., or it may swing to the west and strike central Mexico. It’s almost like the computer models are throwing up their hands and saying, “I give up!”
According to the discussion at the NHC, the path of TROPICAL STORM NATE is going to be dependent on the strength of a trough currently stretching southwestward from the Ohio Valley. If the trough is deep enough it should capture the storm and bring it north towards Louisiana and the Florida panhandle. If the trough is weak then the tropical cyclone will most likely curve west, staying south of a developing ridge of high pressure, and head towards central Mexico.
What is known is that the light to moderate wind shear over the tropical storm is forecast to lessen and allow the storm to gradually strengthen. However, increasing shear along with drier mid- to low-level air will inhibit further strengthening later in the forecast period. In other words, TROPICAL STORM NATE will most likely strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane, but probably not much stronger.
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING is currently in effect from Chilitepec to Celestun, Mexico.
A TROPICAL STORM WATCH is currently in effect from Celestun to Progreso, Mexico.