The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season officially starts Saturday, and, as if on cue, a storm could form in the Gulf of Mexico over the next few days, forecasters said.
The National Hurricane Center said the system is expected to move over the southern Gulf of Mexico this weekend.
“Some gradual development of this system is possible through early next week as
long as it remains over water,” the hurricane center said. “Regardless of development, the disturbance will likely produce heavy rainfall over portions of southern Mexico during the next few days.”
If the system’s wind speeds reach 39 mph, it would become Tropical Storm Barry. The hurricane center is giving the system a 30% chance of development.
The six-month hurricane season is predicted to be near-normal by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with 9 to 15 named tropical storms expected to form. Of those, 4 to 8 should strengthen into hurricanes.
A tropical storm becomes a hurricane once its sustained winds reach 74 mph. A typical season sees 12 tropical storms, of which 6 become hurricanes.
In April, meteorologists at Colorado State University estimated 13 tropical storms will form, 5 of which will become hurricanes.
If it forms, Barry would be the second named storm of the season. Andrea, a subtropical storm, formed in the Atlantic, then spun harmlessly out to sea last week.