Bloomberg News

Storm Cluster Off Yucatan Better Defined as Chris Weakens

June 22, 2012

A storm cluster near the Yucatan Peninsula is becoming better defined and may move into the central Gulf of Mexico, while Chris weakened to a post-tropical system off Canada, the National Hurricane Center said.

A swath of rain and storms across the Caribbean from Mexico to Cuba and Florida has a 70 percent chance of forming into a tropical cyclone within 48 hours, the Miami-based center said in an 8 a.m. Atlantic time advisory. Floods and heavy rain may occur from southern Florida to the Yucatan through tomorrow.

“Interests along the entire U.S. Gulf Coast should monitor the progress of this disturbance through the weekend,” the NHC said. An Air Force reserve reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the system later today.

The NHC said the low is expected to slowly move north into the central Gulf possibly as a tropical cyclone, then track northeast across the eastern Gulf on June 25-26.

A storm in the Gulf that moves east may threaten Florida, the second-largest producer of oranges behind Brazil. Should it move north and west, that could affect oil and gas interests as the Gulf is home to 6.5 percent of U.S. natural gas output, 29 percent of oil production and 40 percent of refining capacity.

“It’s too early to tell what its track might be but I don’t pull anybody off the danger list,” said Jeff Masters, co- founder of Weather Underground Inc. “It could affect any part of the Gulf, with Florida being the highest risk right now.”

Storm Debby?

Petromatrix GmbH said in a report today it was “likely that the U.S. Gulf will see its first tropical storm (Debby) over the weekend. For now the models are not fully in accordance on the track but the probabilities are for a path toward the oil-producing region of the U.S. Gulf.”

There could be some headlines later today or over the weekend about “cooks on the platforms being flown back to land in precaution,” Olivier Jakob, managing director of Switzerland-based Petromatrix, said in the e-mailed report.

“Given that the U.S. Gulf now has become a significant exporter of products, it is a bit more difficult to estimate the net impact of U.S. Gulf tropical storms as delays in export shipments due to bad weather can also translate into product stock builds,” Petromatrix said.

Computer models are split over the exact track the storm may take, Masters said. One projection takes it into Florida; others have it tracking further west into the Gulf. Another scenario has the system crossing Florida and entering the Atlantic, said Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. If that happens, the storm might move up the East Coast.

The maximum sustained winds of Chris, this year’s first Atlantic hurricane, decreased to 45 miles (72 kilometers) per hour 335 miles east-southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland, and the hurricane center stopped issuing advisories on the system at 11 a.m. It’s expected to be absorbed by another low tomorrow.

Chris lasted six hours as a Category 1 hurricane, with a minimum speed of 74 mph on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at bsullivan10@bloomberg.net; Rupert Rowling in London at rrowling@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net


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