Tropical depression forms in Gulf of Mexico

A patch of rough weather in the Gulf of Mexico has been getting better organized throughout the week but is expected to fizzle by the weekend.
A tropical depression formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday afternoon. It's only expected to bring rain to the Tampa Bay area.
A tropical depression formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday afternoon. It's only expected to bring rain to the Tampa Bay area. [ National Hurricane Center ]
Published June 1|Updated June 2

Forecasters upgraded a blob of rough weather in the Gulf of Mexico to a tropical depression late Thursday afternoon — the first day of hurricane season — but didn’t expect it to pose any threat to land before it fizzles out over the weekend.

Related: FRIDAY UPDATE: Tropical depression in Gulf of Mexico expected to weaken

The depression, which forecasters earlier this week said posed only a minimal chance of powering up into a tropical system, got more organized as the week progressed. It was packing 35 mph sustained winds late Thursday afternoon.

Forecasters said the weather system posed no threat to the Tampa Bay area, though Central and South Florida could receive 1 to 3 inches of rain. Some areas could get up to 6 inches of rain and flash flooding is possible, forecasters said.

Spectrum Bay News 9 meteorologists pegged rain chances at 70% on Friday, but have those chances falling to 50% on Saturday and Sunday as the system is expected to begin drooping to the south.

The possibility remained that the depression could strengthen into a tropical storm late Thursday or Friday morning, making it the first named system of the young hurricane season. A system becomes a tropical storm when it has sustained winds of 39 mph. If it reaches that strength, it will be called Tropical Storm Arlene.

However, forecasters said in a 4 p.m. update on Thursday that they expected the system to “remain offshore and be short-lived” and begin to weaken by Friday night.

By the weekend, the system is expected to clash with conditions that will make further development difficult as it picks up speed and pushes south.

The last time a storm got a name on the first day of the hurricane season was Tropical Storm Barry in 2007, according to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist with Colorado State University. Barry shares some similarities with our current system.

Barry also formed in the gulf and dumped some much-needed rain on Florida’s southeast coast. At the time, the area was experiencing a drought, just like this year.

Forecasters have previously said that they expect a fairly normal hurricane season this year.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting 12 to 17 named storms, of which five to nine will become hurricanes and one to four will reach major hurricane strength.

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