Skip to content

Rare April Subtropical Storm May Brew In Gulf Of Mexico Next Week

Next week, an approaching tropical or subtropical system may hit the southern United States.

AccuWeather meteorologists will be closely monitoring the Gulf of Mexico in the coming days as there is concern that a tropical or subtropical system may brew prior to moving onshore in the southern United States next week.

It is generally a rare occurrence for tropical depressions or storms to form in April, but it has happened over the years. The most recent named storm to form in April was Tropical Storm Arlene, which formed over the central Atlantic in 2017. However, no tropical systems have ever been documented in the Gulf of Mexico during April. Interestingly enough, the first name on the list that will be used to identify 2023 Atlantic storms is Arlene.

There is a short list of atmospheric factors that will have to unfold in order for a tropical or subtropical system to form.

The initial spark for tropical system formation may occur as a dip in the jet stream, high in the atmosphere, plunges toward the Gulf of Mexico next week. The jet stream may then break off and form what meteorologists call a closed low. Provided this closed low can linger over the Gulf of Mexico long enough, it is possible that a low-pressure area may spin down to the lower part of the atmosphere and acquire some tropical characteristics.

Since Gulf of Mexico water temperatures are barely high enough this early in the spring, the system that could form may not be fully tropical. Gulf of Mexico water temperatures range from near 70 F along the Louisiana coast to the low 80s in the waters between Cuba and Mexico. Temperature departures are 5-8 degrees above the historical average in the northern parts of the Gulf to close to the historical average near the Caribbean.

In order for a true tropical system to develop, water temperatures generally need to be in the mid- to upper 70s F. Because of the tepid water temperatures, a subtropical storm or hybrid storm may develop – or perhaps not form at all.

As of Thursday morning, AccuWeather meteorologists say a storm may form anywhere from near the coast of the Florida Peninsula and the Keys to waters along the Louisiana coast during the middle of next week. And regardless of tropical characteristics or where the potential storm takes shape, a broad zone of moisture will develop from Florida to the upper Gulf Coast. However, the track and forward speed of that storm will determine which areas end up receiving the biggest amount of rain.

A storm may form anywhere from near the coast of the Florida Peninsula and the Keys to waters along the Louisiana coast during the middle of next week. ACCUWEATHER

A stiff breeze is likely to develop from the east along the Florida Peninsula, the northern Gulf of Mexico and perhaps farther north along the Atlantic coast next week. These breezes can create rough surf and strong rip currents.

“At the very least, it appears that portions of Florida will receive some much-needed rain from the ordeal,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Alex DaSilva said.

Soil conditions range from normal moisture in the panhandle to extreme drought in the southwest part of the peninsula.

The soil’s moisture levels range from normal in the panhandle to extremely low in the peninsula’s southwest. ACCUWEATHER

AccuWeather meteorologists also have another concern that relates to heavy rainfall.

“Areas from northeastern Texas to the Carolinas that get doused with heavy rain into this weekend could be more prone for flooding issues next week, provided a storm throws more rain over some of the same locations for a several-day period,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Joe Lundberg said.

A powerful storm with high winds is unlikely. However, one aspect of a weak subtropical system, or merely a closed low nearby, is the potential for severe thunderstorms. Any thunderstorms that develop could generate torrential downpours, strong wind gusts and perhaps a few tornadoes or waterspouts.

In any event, a period of unsettled weather is likely along much of the Gulf Coast. The greatest threats to swimmers, beachgoers and boaters will be lightning strikes and rough seas/surf.

While the Southern states may have to deal with heavy rain from a stalled front into this weekend and another round of heavy rain from a potential subtropical system next week, warmth will build across much of the Plains to the Northeast with many days of sunshine expected next week.

During March, AccuWeather issued its first look at the upcoming 2023 Atlantic hurricane season. The team of meteorologists, led by Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski, expects a near-historical average number of named systems (11-15). The numbers are based on the latest developments with the routine fluctuation of sea surface temperatures in the tropical equatorial Pacific known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Studies have shown over many decades that water temperatures in the tropical Pacific can have a profound effect on weather patterns throughout the globe. When waters are cool in that part of the Pacific, or during a La Niña, conditions can be conducive for tropical cyclone development, and an above-average number of tropical systems can form in the Atlantic. However, when waters in the Pacific are warm, conditions may be more hostile for tropical development in the Atlantic.

Kottlowski’s team of tropical weather experts indicated in the 2023 Atlantic hurricane forecast that there would be a good chance for a preseason storm to form. Last year was the first since 2014 in which a named storm didn’t develop prior to June 1.

AccuWeather’s tropical weather team expects conditions to transition slowly from ENSO-neutral to El Niño later in the hurricane season. Should the transition occur quickly, then the number of tropical systems may be lower than average. If the transition occurs slowly or Pacific water temperatures hover near average or revert to La Niña, then the number of tropical systems may be higher than anticipated.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

Recommended from our partners