Atlantic storm seen heading for Caribbean, eastern Gulf of Mexico - NHC

1 Jul 2021

Quantum Commodity Intelligence - A low-pressure weather system currently making its way across the Atlantic has been upgraded to a tropical depression and is almost certain to be named as tropical storm Elsa, the US National Hurricane Center said early Thursday.

Invest 97L and has been designated TD Five ahead of its upgraded to a tropical storm.

“The tropical depression is expected to become a tropical storm before reaching the lesser Antilles, and tropical storm conditions are expected beginning late Thursday night,” the NHC said in bulletin published at 0200 EDT, noting winds of 35 mph.

However, the likelihood of the disrupting oil and gas and facilities in the US Gulf is still relatively low, but something operators will need to monitor.

Storm Elsa would need to remain intact as it passes the islands of Hispaniola and Cuba and then traverse through the Yucatan Channel, the body of water between Mexico and Cuba, or over land which will likely have a weakening effect.

Current models mostly have Elsa brushing Hispaniola before tracking over the narrow land strip of western Cuba and into the Gulf of Mexico. But from there models have storm Elsa tracking east, largely away from oil and gas facilities, both on and offshore.   

Additionally, storms at this time of the year are typically less threatening, with the more powerful storms usually from August onwards as the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico waters heat up.

Early start

However, some weather watchers believe that storm activity this early in the year could be a precursor to another lively hurricane season. 

In May the US government agency, NOAA Climate Prediction Center, forecasted another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season in 2021

“Since we have already had four named storms so far (prior to Elsa), interest has been piqued on how many more, and how strong, tropical cyclones will be,” said Larry Cosgrove, Chief Meteorologist at WEATHERAmerica.

“Keep in mind that by mid-July, when the Bermuda High starts to undergo a growth phase, there -will be a pathway for tropical development and likely track alterations toward either the central Gulf Coast or Florida. Until that time, we have to worry about building heat.”

The record 2020 hurricane season had a devastating impact on the oil and gas sector, with storms like Marco, Laura and Sally ripping through the Gulf of Mexico and making landfall along the US Gulf coast, which hosts much of the US oil and gas infrastructure.