So much for our quiet hurricane season.
Rescue workers were activated in southern Texas today in preparation for heavy rain expected to accompany newly formed Tropical Storm Erin moving through the Gulf of Mexico.
At 10:30 a.m. CDT, it had maximum sustained winds near 40 mph, up from 30 mph earlier in the day, and was centered about 250 miles east-southeast of Brownsville. It could hit land Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Farther out in the tropics, but still a potential threat to Texas, Tropical Storm Dean continued moving west Tuesday. The storm, located about 1,300 miles east of the Lesser Antilles on Tuesday night, attained 50 mph winds.
Forecast models suggested Dean would continue moving west across the Atlantic for several days, tracing the edge of a high-pressure system to its north.
If the system eventually turns north, it will miss land, but equally likely is a continued west-northwest track that could bring it near Haiti or Puerto Rico in about five days.
If Dean ends up in the Gulf of Mexico, the storm would find plenty of warm water to fuel intensification. But forecasters said it's too early to know where the storm will go.
Given the warmer water and lessening wind shear, the official forecast calls for a 115-mph, category-3 hurricane, but then hastens to add that because of the favorable conditions, Dean could be "notably stronger" than this.
The bad news is that the Gulf of Mexico is still warmer (I'll do a full analysis this afternoon), and if Dean reaches the Gulf the United States will likely face a blow from a major hurricane. Although the models remain unreliable forecasting longer than five days, and Dean probably wouldn't reach the Gulf for a week, the storm's trend is clearly in our direction.