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Tropical cyclone development highly likely Memorial Day Weekend, impacts extend beyond Gulf Coast

All eyes remain on the Yucatan Peninsula as an area of disturbed weather becomes more organized early Monday morning.

The cluster of thunderstorms are located approximately 800 miles south of Mobile, but anyone with vacation interests from Biloxi to Gulf Shores to Panama City should remain aware of the weather for the next several days.

As of this writing, enough wind shear (change in wind direction and speed from the surface of the ground to 40,000 feet high) is present to keep the storm relatively weak and unorganized. That may change over the next few days as the system moves from an area of high wind shear (unfavorable) to low wind shear (favorable for tropical development).

The National Hurricane Center states that Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters will fly reconnaissance  into the system this afternoon, if necessary. The Hurricane Hunters hope to determine if a center of circulation is present, which is one of the requirements for classifying a system as either a tropical depression or tropical storm.

(Tropical Weather 101: What do the different terms mean?)

No matter the strength or organization of the system, what is for certain is that heavy rain, gusty winds, and rip currents will impact the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida. As much as 5 to 7 inches of rain is possible from Mobile to Panama City and extending north into Dothan and Albany as the tropical system pulls moist, humid air and drenching downpours onshore.

Those drenching rains will also push further north into south-central Alabama and central Georgia. To the east, rainbands will swing heavy downpours and even potential severe storms through central Florida, including Tampa and Orlando.

If vacation plans take you through Mobile, Montgomery, Columbus, Macon or Augusta, be cautious while driving through heavy downpours which may flood interstates as well as surface streets. Anticipate heavier traffic volume while traveling through major traffic hubs like Birmingham and Atlanta.

Heading south for the Memorial Day Holiday? Here’s what you need to know

If you’re beach-bound for the holiday weekend, you’ll want to stay weather aware through Monday, and even extending into the second half of next week:

  • There is a high risk of rip currents along the Gulf Coast (rip currents can potentially drown even the strongest of swimmers)
  • Heavy rain is *likely* and could cause some flooding in South Alabama and Northwest Florida (over 5-7” of rain possible)
  • Sustained winds around 20-40 miles per hour are expected from Sunday through Monday with some higher gusts
  • There will be some risk of severe weather – including tornadoes – on the east side of this storm’s circulation

Even if you are away from home, you can track the heavy rain and storms with the Live Alert 19 app, which will give you local watches/warnings if you have the “use current location” setting on within the app.