An area of thunderstorms over the Bay of Campeche, in the southern Gulf of Mexico, may become a tropical system later today, the National Hurricane Center said.
A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane has been dispatched to investigate the disturbance, the center in Miami said in an advisory at 2 p.m. Eastern time. There’s an 80 percent chance of a tropical depression or storm forming in the bay in the next two days.
“We think it will become Tropical Storm Ingrid within 24 hours, making landfall somewhere near Tampico, Mexico,” said Dan Kottlowski, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “It will bring a large area of rain across Mexico.”
Storms in the Gulf of Mexico and the bay tend to be closely watched because of their proximity to U.S. and Mexican oil and gas production.
The Gulf is home to about 5.6 percent of U.S. natural gas output, 23 percent of oil production and more than 45 percent of petroleum refining capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, known as Pemex, has rigs in the bay.
If Ingrid does emerge, it will be the third tropical storm to slam into southern Mexico’s Atlantic coast since the Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1. Tropical storms Barry and Fernand struck the area in June and August.
A depression, the weakest form of tropical system, hit the area earlier this month.
“It seems like every three or four weeks we have something organize there,” Kottlowski said.
Another system off Mexico’s Pacific coast, south of Acapulco, has a 30 percent chance of becoming tropical in the next two days. The two disturbances together “could bring heavy rains to portions of southern and eastern Mexico for the next several days,” the hurricane center said. “These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.”
Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Gabrielle is moving north with sustained winds of 40 miles (65 kilometers) per hour and is expected to brush Nova Scotia sometime tomorrow, according to the hurricane center.
Hurricane Humberto, with top sustained winds of 85 mph, was about 515 miles northwest of the Cape Verde Islands. It isn’t an immediate threat to land.
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