Tropical storm Nestor has finally been named, after it strengthened in the Gulf of Mexico with winds now at 60 mph and warnings still raised for the Gulf coast, with a focus on the Florida Panhandle where a storm surge of up to 5 feet is forecast.
Updated, Friday 18th Oct, 18.30 BST: Tropical storm Nestor has now formed out of the low pressure area that the National Hurricane Center called “potential tropical cyclone 16”.
Now named, Nestor will be the fourteenth tropical storm of the 2019 Atlantic season and is expected to head relatively quickly in the direction of the Florida Panhandle area, strengthening as it proceeds. The NHC now warns of a potentially dangerous storm surge.
Forecast models are in strong agreement on the direction of tropical storm Nestor, but on intensity they differ a little with some suggesting it could get close to becoming a Category 1 hurricane by landfall, while others show it remaining a tropical storm.
Sustained winds have now increased to 60 mph with higher gusts and a minimum central pressure of 1001 mb, so is at tropical storm strength already and not far from hurricane strength, but just hasn’t yet met all the criteria required for being named.
As it nears the Gulf coast, tropical storm Nestor is still expected to encounter an area of wind shear which will degrade its structure and hinder its development.
But the Gulf of Mexico waters it will travel over during the next day hold ample warmth for the storm to intensify somewhat, as well as pick up additional moisture and, whatever happens over the next day or so, Nestor is likely to bring drenching rains to the Florida Panhandle and surrounding coastal areas as well as a surge.
Currently, a tropical storm warning is in effect for the Mississippi/Alabama border to Yankeetown Florida and for Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Mouth of the Pearl River.
While, a storm surge watch is in effect for Indian Pass to Clearwater Beach, Florida.
The latest update from the National Hurricane Center can be found below, including storm surge and rainfall expectations for tropical storm Nestor.
Satellite imagery and ship and buoy data indicate that the circulation of the low pressure system has become better defined, and the disturbance is now Tropical Storm Nestor.
At 100 PM CDT (1800 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Nestor was located near latitude 26.3 North, longitude 89.5 West. Nestor is moving toward the northeast near 22 mph (35 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue through Sunday, followed by a turn toward the east-northeast by early Monday. On the forecast track, the center of Nestor will approach the northern Gulf Coast later today and tonight and move inland across portions of the
southeastern United States Saturday and Sunday as it becomes a post-tropical cyclone. Nestor is expected to move offshore of the coast of North Carolina into the western Atlantic by late Sunday.
Maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph (95 km/h) with higher gusts. Some strengthening is expected later today, with weakening forecast after Nestor moves inland. Nestor is expected to lose tropical characteristics and become post-tropical on Saturday.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km), mainly to the northeast and east of the center.
The estimated minimum central pressure is 1001 mb (29.56 inches).
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water could reach the following heights above ground somewhere in the indicated areas if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide…
Indian Pass FL to Chassahowitzka FL…3 to 5 ft
Chassahowitzka to Clearwater Beach FL…2 to 4 ft
Tampa Bay…1 to 3 ft
Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances.
WIND: Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach the coast within the warning area by later today and this evening, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous.
Gale-force winds are likely along portions of the Atlantic coast of the southeastern United States by Saturday.
RAINFALL: Nestor is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 2 to 4 inches this weekend from the central Gulf Coast and northern and central Florida to the eastern Carolinas, with isolated maximum amounts of 6 inches.
TORNADOES: A tornado or two is possible tonight and early Saturday near the Florida Gulf Coast from the central panhandle to western parts of the Florida peninsula.
Forecast model intensity guidance for tropical storm Nestor can be found below, from TropicalTidbits.com.