Ag Weather Forum

Tropical System Reminder

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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The National Hurricane Center is calling for a possible tropical weather system to form in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, near Tallahassee, Florida, during the July 10-12 time frame. (NHC graphic)

Monday, July 8, market discussion added a tropical weather element. Some trade attention was focused on the prospect for a tropical weather system to form in the eastern Gulf of Mexico in the period from Wednesday, July 10, through Saturday, July 12. If such a system were to form, and reach the level where sustained winds are at least 39 miles per hour, it would then be classified as a tropical storm and be given a name. This one would be called Barry. And, there was some indication that at least part of the commodity trading community connected the onset of potential tropical system activity to chances for a dose of rain in the Midwest. Rain, of course, would at this time be favorable for late-developing crops. (I don't need to describe that situation more.)

However, there is a reminder here regarding tropical system formation. It's important to not simply take it for granted -- to assume -- that a tropical system will throw moisture into the Midwest just by virtue of its formation. There can be such a happening, certainly. But, much of this possibility depends on where the storm system if located. Is the system in the western Gulf of Mexico or in the eastern sector? What about the mechanics of tropical systems to begin with?

Let's take the second question first. Tropical weather systems tend to tie up Gulf of Mexico moisture just to keep going. After all, these big entities need a lot of fuel; that comes from the available water. So, many times, a tropical storm system can affect a fairly small area relatively speaking, but will offer only light precipitation farther out.

There's also the question of where the system forms. Right now, the best guess is for such a system, if it forms, to focus over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, around Pensacola and Tallahassee, Florida, into southern Georgia. If that happens, the Southeast could get rain, but the inflow of moisture into the Midwest might be substantially less. That's because the wind pattern around the center of the storm may or may not be oriented into a track that sends Gulf moisture toward the Midwest.

These caveats do not mean there's zero chance of tropical system influence on the Midwest forecast over the next two weeks. But, it's best to be a little cautious when it comes to assessing the impact of tropical development on the Midwest pattern. The chance for Barry, though, is bringing a real summer flavor to the mid-July crop weather scene.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

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