An area of low pressure moving over the Florida Panhandle was expected to track southward into the northern Gulf of Mexico by early Monday and had a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours, the National Hurricane Center said Sunday.
The low pressure area was the remnant of Tropical Depression Five which dissipated Wednesday in the Gulf.
The U.S. Gulf of Mexico is home to about 30 percent of U.S. oil production, 11 percent of natural gas production, and more than 43 percent of U.S. refinery capacity.
“This system is moving southward … and should gradually turn southwestward and re-emerge over the northern Gulf of Mexico early Monday morning where environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for possible redevelopment into a tropical depression,” the Miami-based hurricane center said.
It gave it a “medium chance”, 50 percent, of becoming a tropical cyclone again during the next 48 hours.
The NHC said that regardless of whether it developed further, the system would be capable of producing locally heavy rainfall and strong gusty winds along the central Gulf Coast.
Jeff Masters of private forecaster Weather Underground said earlier long range radar showed a band of intense thunderstorms had developed over the northern Gulf of Mexico.
“The system may have enough time over water to become a weak tropical storm before making landfall Tuesday night or Wednesday morning over Southeast Louisiana,” he added in a blog posting on www.wunderground.com.
Last week, as a precautionary measure due to the approaching tropical depression before it dissipated, BP had announced a delay of two to three days on its final work on a relief well to permanently kill its blown-out Macondo well, the source of the world’s worst offshore oil spill.
BP is now carrying out a last batch of tests of well pressures ahead of an expected official government go-ahead to finish the relief well.
The 2O10 Atlantic Hurricane season has seen only three tropical storms so far, with only one reaching hurricane strength.
The season is nearing its traditionally most active phase, which runs from mid-August through October. Hurricanes feed on warm water and the tropical Atlantic is warmest at that time.
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