It’s pretty clear that the 2008 hurricane season is over. Temperatures this Friday morning along the Louisiana coast and eastward are in the low 40s and dropping behind a fairly strong cold front. I’d mentioned this front last week, so this is no big surprise. The front will produce northerly winds of 25-35 kts (with higher gusts) today and tonight across the northwest Gulf lease areas. Winds and seas will diminish over the weekend. Freezing temperatures may be experienced from south Louisiana eastward through the Florida Panhandle on Saturday morning.
Though there will be no further tropical threats to the Gulf this year, I do see a potential stormy period for the northern Gulf late this month into early December. Details are not clear yet, but I’m seeing strong indications of a storm system tracking across the Gulf Coast late this month, perhaps between the 28th-30th. The storm center should remain inland, but it could result in strong southerly winds late next week followed by a line of heavy squalls and strong wind gusts as the system moves eastward along the Gulf Coast. This is a common fall pattern, but it’s a change from recent weeks.
In the very long range, we’re seeing a developing pattern that’s much like December of 1983 and 1989 across northwest Canada and Alaska. In case you don’t remember, the Gulf Coast was hit by several very cold Arctic fronts in those years, dropping temperatures to the low teens (and lower) down to the Gulf Coast. It’s definitely quite a bit colder than normal across Alaska and northwest Canada right now, so we’ll have to watch out for southward push of some frigid Arctic air around the second or third week of December. Such fronts can produce very strong winds offshore, along with quite cold temperatures. In 1983, for example, the air was so cold that snow flurries were seen on offshore rigs off the upper Texas and Louisiana coasts. I’m not predicting snow offshore, of course, but I do think some very cold air may impact the Gulf toward mid December.