Tropical storm brewing? New system has highest chance yet this year, forecasters say.

While Florida copes with damaging flooding, forecasters were turning their eyes Thursday to a separate area of disturbed weather in the western Gulf of Mexico. That system could eventually bring drenching, potentially flooding rains to much of the Gulf Coast.

"A tropical depression could form during the early or middle part of next week," according to the National Hurricane Center.

Specifically, the hurricane center says there's a 40% chance that it becomes a tropical depression or storm within the next seven days. That's the highest chance of a storm that strong so far this year.

AccuWeather meteorologist Joseph Bauer said, "Regardless of any organization into a tropical depression, this feature will pump a significant amount of moisture onshore over the central Gulf Coast region in the form of heavy rain from Sunday to Tuesday, which may expand westward to much of South Texas later next week."

While one system spins off of Florida (yellow x), forecasters Thursday were also keeping an eye on an area of disturbed weather in the western Gulf of Mexico (orange shaded area).
While one system spins off of Florida (yellow x), forecasters Thursday were also keeping an eye on an area of disturbed weather in the western Gulf of Mexico (orange shaded area).

Will it get the name Alberto?

In order for a system to get a name, it must become a tropical storm, with sustained winds of at least 39 mph. So far this year, no named storms have formed. That makes this the latest in 10 years we've gone into a season without a named storm.

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The first name on the list of storm names for the Atlantic in 2024 is Alberto. The name could go to the Gulf system next week, or potentially instead to the storm that's now drenching Florida as it spins out to sea over the next few days. Fortunately for Florida, "even if it does become the first named storm of 2024, there will be no further impacts on land," Weather Tiger meteorologist Ryan Truchelut said.

Forecasters watch wind shear, hot water

What factors will determine if the system in the Gulf becomes a named storm? First, wind shear, a typical nemesis of developing tropical systems, may be light enough around the Bay of Campeche to allow for development early next week, according to Weather.com meteorologist Jonathan Erdman.

In addition, he said Gulf water is "record warm for this time of year, easily supportive of tropical development."

The weather service in Corpus Christi, Texas, said that if the system approaches that area, it will "increase our risks for coastal flooding and dangerous rip currents."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hurricane forecasters say system in Gulf of Mexico could strengthen

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