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Texas watches 'Potential Tropical Cyclone One' brewing in Mexico's Bay of Campeche

Photo by Pixabay

Forecasters have warned of a very busy Atlantic hurricane season in 2024, and its first significant storm moved toward the stage on Tuesday afternoon.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) remained confident on Tuesday that the low pressure area in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico — specifically in the Bay of Campeche — would strengthen into a tropical storm by Wednesday as it moved westward toward the northeastern Mexico coast.

By Tuesday afternoon, the NHC called the system "Potential Tropical Cyclone One." Landfall was expected by Wednesday night.

The National Weather Service defines a "potential tropical cyclone" as "a disturbance that is not yet a tropical cyclone, BUT which poses the threat of bringing tropical storm or hurricane conditions to land areas within 48 hours."

Tropical storm warnings were issued for the Texas coast from San Luis Pass south to the mouth of the Rio Grande, and from there southward along the Mexican coast to Puerto de Altamira. The NHC explained the warnings meant tropical storm conditions were expected in that area within 36 hours.

The NHC advised on Tuesday that the storm could unleash up to 10 to 15 inches of rain in northeastern Mexico and Deep South Texas. Much of the Texas coast might see storm surges up to four feet. Deep South Texas may also see tornadoes.

The season

The Atlantic season officially began on June 1 and ends on Nov. 30. Forecasters predicted this year's season may see about two dozen named storms, including 11 hurricanes and five major hurricanes.

Michael Brennan, director of the NHC, explained that forecasters expected “17 to 25 named storms that would be tropical storm strength or greater, of which eight to 13 would become hurricanes, and four to seven major hurricanes of category three to five on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale."

He noted that this year’s hurricane forecast could break a record for NOAA. “The high end of those ranges are the highest numbers that NOAA has ever forecast in its May seasonal outlook,” he said.

Record warm sea temperatures, combined with the La Niña effect -- which takes away wind shear that can block hurricanes -- created the ideal conditions for frequent tropical developments this year.

National Weather Service

Matt Rosencrans, lead forecaster with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), agreed that warmer water is a problem. "The sea surface in the main development region right now are 1-2 centigrade or 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit above normal," he explained. "They are equivalent to what we normally see in August, and they are dramatically warmer than in 2005."

2005 was one of the most destructive years for hurricanes, which saw Hurricane Katrina, among several others.

Brennan said climate change created additional risks. “We’re seeing increased rainfall rates and resultant freshwater flooding," he explained, "and that’s concerning because that hazard in particular has killed more people than any other Atlantic Basin tropical storms and hurricanes in the last decade or so.”

Also, in anticipation of another crowded season, if this year's list of names is exhausted, forecasters will not draw more names from the Greek alphabet, as it did in 2020. The World Meteorological Organization decided in 2021 that a supplemental list of names would be used instead.


On June 10, the Texas Department of Public Safety reminded all residents to prepare themselves for the very busy season.

Tropical weather in the Gulf of Mexico can quickly move inland, unleashing flash floods that can inundate homes and winds that can rip down power lines and plunge communities into darkness.

Authorities may order evacuations, and residents should be ready to efficiently head for safer parts of the state. They advised residents to study hurricane evacuation maps and identify at least two routes they could take — a primary route and a backup route.

An emergency kit should include water, non-perishable food, medications, first aid, flashlights, batteries, battery-powered radio, personal hygiene items and important documents.

Residents were urged to ensure much of that kit was assembled now, and that those documents can be quickly located, added to the kit and taken with them. They should also keep in mind the special needs of elderly or disabled loved ones or neighbors.

Houston Public Media's Matt Thomas, Jack Williams and Lota Nwaukwa contributed to this report.

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