An evolving weather pattern with an upper-level high pressure ridge to our west and a deepening low pressure trough moving into the Great Lakes and Midwest and eastern third of the country this week will play a very important role in our weather both locally and over the U.S.
For one, this pattern will bring a relatively early push of cooler and drier air into Southeast Texas. Even more important, it will play a major role not only in keeping Category 5 Hurricane Irma well to the east of us, but also bottling up a developing tropical system in the southwest Gulf of Mexico, “most likely” steering it eventually into Mexico. ( I never say never when dealing with tropical systems).
A satellite view of the Atlantic starkly highlights the hazards that this pattern may protect us from, with one major hurricane, and two disturbances likely to develop into tropical storm over the next couple of days, if not sooner.
Fortunately, the day four forecast maps show the frontal boundary, high pressure systems and the trough serving as a barrier to any northwest movement of these systems and steering the biggest threat (Irma) into the area around Florida and the Southeastern U.S.
This is reflected in both the official forecast track cone from the National Hurricane Center and from forecast model arrays.
At 11 a.m. AST, Irma was packing 180-mph winds and was located 225 miles east of Antigua. This is likely to be a catastrophic event not only for the Caribbean islands as well as the U.S. If there is any saving grace is that it is not likely to slam the already stricken areas of Texas and Louisiana.