Tropical Depression Grace may be headed toward Valley

National Hurricane Center

HARLINGEN — A tropical disturbance roiling the waters of the Caribbean is expected to strengthen and make a beeline toward northern Mexico and potentially the Rio Grande Valley.

Tropical Disturbance Grace was sitting south of the island of Hispaniola on Monday, churning westward at 16 mph.

The storm is expected to strengthen and be named Tropical Storm Grace on Tuesday, although computer models at this time do not indicate it will pack enough punch to become a hurricane by the time it makes landfall this weekend.

“It looks like the track is going to remain very westerly through its history which will probably bring it into Mexico well to your south,” Dave Bowers, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather, said Monday.
“Our window of movement here would still allow the possibility for it to be as far north as the Valley, but you’re right on the northern edge of what we could possibly see at this point,” he added.

The computer modeling for Grace is pretty consistent that it will lurch across the Caribbean on a westerly track, strike a glancing blow to the Yucatan Peninsula, then cross the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall Saturday somewhere to the north of Tampico, Mexico.

At this time, there’s no indication Grace will ramp up to hurricane status at any point during its trek across the sea.

“It has a lot of warmer water to cross once it gets into the Gulf of Mexico,” Bowers said. “But it’s also going to be encountering some moderate shear which is why they don’t strengthen it to a hurricane.

“But we’ve still got days to go here, and if that shear relaxes a little bit, it could ramp up,” he added. “But right now that seems less than 50-50.”

National Hurricane Center

Possible threats to the Valley:

  • Elevated risk of rip currents throughout the weekend
  • Elevated swells across the Gulf waters starting Friday
  • Minor coastal run-up starting Friday and continuing into the weekend
  • Rain Bands from Grace possibly producing locally heavy rainfall starting Friday and continuing into the weekend

rkelley@valleystar.com