Tropical Storm Nestor barrels over Gulf of Mexico toward U.S.
Oct. 18 (UPI) — Residents along part of the Gulf Coast are bracing for newly formed Tropical Storm Nestor, which is projected to make landfall early this weekend and unleash flooding rain and damaging winds.
Tropical Storm Nestor strengthened into the 14th-named system of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season early Friday afternoon over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s currently located 280 miles southwest of Panama City, Fla. The system is racing northeastward at 22 mph with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, and AccuWeather meteorologists say its quick-forward speed will limit how much strengthening can occur before landfall.
Nestor is projected to strike along the Florida Panhandle on Saturday morning as a strong tropical storm. It could make landfall within 50 miles of Mexico Beach, Fla., the site where Hurricane Michael made landfall as a destructive Category 5 hurricane just over a year ago on Oct. 10, 2018.
“This system has the potential to bring heavy rainfall, damaging winds and a coastal storm surge to parts of the Florida Panhandle and northwestern Florida during Saturday morning,” AccuWeather’s Chief Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
The rating for this system on the AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes is less than 1 and will be focused along the Florida Panhandle. The AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes ranges from values of less than 1 to 5.
In terms of economic impacts to the region, AccuWeather founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers said, “No significant overall economic impact is expected,” from the storm, but he added, “There will be some brief economic impact where heavy rains and coastal flooding occurs.”
The worst of the storm will focus on areas near and to the east of where the center makes landfall. This is the area where the strongest winds and highest storm surge is likely to occur. Isolated tornadoes can also touch down on the northeastern side of the storm.
People in these areas should finish any last-minute preparations by Friday evening, including purchasing extra fuel for generators and securing any outdoor items such as lawn furniture.
Nestor will weaken as it moves inland, but much of the southeastern United States can still expect gusty winds, flooding rainfall and isolated tornadoes. A general 1-3 inches of rain is forecast from the northeastern Gulf coast to near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay with an AccuWeather Local StormMax of 6 inches.
The first rain from Nestor began to fall along the Gulf Coast my midday Friday from New Orleans to Tampa, Fla. Rain will intensify and spread inland through Friday night and Saturday, causing disruptions at events such as high school and college football games, outdoor weddings and fall festivals.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a state of emergency declaration on Thursday as a result of the storm’s projected impacts in addition to lingering issues from last week’s deadly collapse of a hotel that was under construction near the city’s French Quarter.
The University of West Florida closed their campus on Friday afternoon, and will remain closed until midday Saturday in anticipation of Nestor.
City officials are working to demolish two unstable two cranes at the site of the Hard Rock hotel collapse, which killed three people and injured more than 20 people on Oct. 12.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, there are currently no tropical disturbances that are expected to develop into a named-tropical system such as Nestor.
“In terms of the long-range outlook for the Atlantic Basin, there may be signifiant inhibiting factors for tropical development during the latter part of October into early November,” Kottlowski said.
“It is possible that tropical activity effectively shuts down after Nestor,” he added.