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.

Stan Blazyk is a life-long weather enthusiast, long-time Galveston resident and author of "A Century of Galveston Weather." He has written the weather blog for the Galveston County Daily News for more than a decade.

(5) comments

Tim Thompson

Stan, wanted to ask, what is your opinion on the two high pressure ridges that bottled Harvey in those 4 or 5 days, is it rare to have two stationary high pressure ridges like that? And are they related to the position of the Jet Stream, I thought I read that the JS is lower than usual, and when that happens you can have lots of flooding from thunderstorms that get bottled in, I think the same thing happened a year or so ago with the Norther California thunderstorms.

Stan Blazyk Staff
Stan Blazyk

Good question. We have had a stagnant weather pattern over the West for some time now with high pressure and record breaking heat in that region. Unfortunately, the Atlantic high managed to push enough west that Harvey was sandwiched between the two high pressure ridges. Somewhat unusual, but not unprecedented. What was unprecedented was that happening with a Category 4 hurricane....a near worse case scenario.

George Croix

This would be an even better than usual time for you to be right, again, Stan...[beam]

Stan Blazyk Staff
Stan Blazyk

I would certainly hope so. Just seeing a hurricane moving west near Cuba gives me PTSD (or perhaps tropical depression...pun intended). Still, odds are good that even if it does slip into the Gulf west of Florida, it will still be on a north-northwest to northerly path in the wake of the trough. Only fly in the ointment would be if the Atlantic high suddenly strengthens and builds west. That is what happened with Ike. Still, no models are really expecting that at this time.

Donna Spencer

Stan, what are your thoughts on the other storm out there following Irma ?

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