Tropical Depression Twenty-Two has formed in the western Gulf of Mexico on Thursday night, forecast to strengthen into a tropical storm later today. This system poses no threat to T&T but interests along the Western U.S. Gulf Coast should monitor the progress of this system.
This is the twenty-second tropical cyclone of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. This depression is forecast to become a tropical storm on Friday. If this system is named, it will be called Wilfred and become the earliest 21st named storm in Atlantic history.
The current record for the earliest 21st named storm is Vince, on October 8th, 2005 while the earliest “W” named storm occurred on October 17th, 2005, held by Wilma.
If this system is called Wilfred, the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season list of names will be officially exhausted. Thus, for the second time in history, we will be using names of the Greek Alphabet.
At 5:00 AM AST, the center of Tropical Depression Twenty-Two was located near latitude 22.9 North, longitude 94.1 West. The depression is moving toward the north-northeast near 6 mph (9 km/h), and this general motion is expected through early Saturday. A slow westward motion is forecast to begin late Saturday that will likely continue into early next week.
Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph (55 km/h) with higher gusts. Strengthening is forecast during the next few days, and the depression is expected to become a tropical storm later today. The system could be near or at hurricane strength by Sunday. The estimated minimum central pressure is 1005 millibar.s
Watches & Warnings
There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect. Interests along the western Gulf of Mexico coast should monitor the progress of the depression.
Hazards Affecting Land
SURF: Swells are expected to increase and reach the coast of Texas and the Gulf Coast of Mexico over the weekend, generated by a combination of the depression and a cold front entering the northern Gulf of Mexico. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Please consult products from your local weather office.
This system is of no direct threat to the Windward Islands, including Trinidad and Tobago.
Tropical Depression Twenty-Two Forecast Discussion
The depression is still not very well organized. Its surface wind circulation appears to be elongated from southwest to northeast and deep convection is mostly limited to the northeast quadrant of the cyclone. Overnight ASCAT data and the latest TAFB Dvorak estimate both support an intensity of 30 kt. An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate the system later this morning and should provide more information about the structure of the cyclone.
Confidence in the details of the track forecast remains low at this time. Due to the slow forward speed of the cyclone expected into next week, small fluctuations in the depression’s heading or speed could have very large implications on any hazards experienced along the Mexico or Texas coasts. It is critical that users not focus on the exact forecast track, especially at days 4 and 5 when the average NHC forecast error is about 175 and 200 miles, respectively. My long-term motion estimate is 025/5 kt, but in reality, the depression’s movement has been unsteady since it formed yesterday. There is still good general agreement that the system will move slowly north-northeastward for about 36 h, and then turn westward as a ridge builds over the southeast United States. The cyclone will then likely inch closer to northern Mexico or southern Texas coasts. The details of this evolution vary greatly from model to model and the track guidance spread is higher than usual. The most certain aspect of the forecast is that the depression will not be moving anywhere very quickly well into next week.
Although the depression is located within an environment supportive of intensification, only slow strengthening is likely until it gets better organized. Beyond 72 h, the cyclone will begin to interact with a cold front and the drier, more stable air behind it. This should at the very least end any intensification and could lead to weakening. Interaction with land could also cause the system to weaken. The latest statistical intensity guidance is less aggressive, but those models still show the system becoming a hurricane within a couple of days, while the dynamical hurricane models (HWRF, HMON, COAMPS-TC) do not strengthen it quite that much. For now, the NHC intensity forecast is largely unchanged and is at the top end of the guidance envelope.
Forecast Discussion by Forecaster Zelinsky from the NHC.