With storm system in the Gulf of Mexico, what should New Orleans expect?

With a possible tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico, is it time for New Orleanians to get out their storm shutters? Not just yet, a forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Slidell office said Monday morning (June 19).

However, it is time to start thinking about your plans if something does develop this week in the Gulf, advises Phil Grigsby, a meteorologist at the National Weather Center’s Slidell office. 

A low pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico has a 90 percent chance of becoming at least a tropical depression or a tropical storm within five days and an 80 percent chance within 48 hours. 

Right now, he said, rain, not wind, will likely be the biggest threat for New Orleans and Southeastern Louisiana. There also might be weather-related power outages.

The rain, according to some models, could reach Louisiana as early as Tuesday morning. Grigsby said most of the region should expect an average of 3 to 6 inches of rain this week, but there is a potential for up to 16 inches, he said, if a storm develops and if it stalls. 

“The models are ‘all over the place’ is the best way to put it,” Grigsby said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty.”

The low pressure system currently is near the Yucatan Peninsula and is expected to move across the Gulf of Mexico. Many models have it reaching the Gulf Coast, but Grigsby said there’s no agreement about a specific location — Texas? Louisiana? Mississippi? Alabama?

“It’s a big ‘if’ right now,” he said.

What the models do agree on, he said, is that the storm, if it develops, will be a tropical depression or a weak tropical storm. 

As of Monday morning, the low pressure system lacked a well-defined center of circulation, but it is expected to develop gradually Monday and Tuesday as…

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