If you plan to head to the beach one final time this Labor Day weekend, check the weather before you leave.

Meteorologists and forecasters with the National Hurricane Center are keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Lee, which has been slowly churning in the Gulf of Mexico.

The slow-moving system wasn’t packing much of wind punch Friday, but forecasters are more concerned about the amount of rain it could drop on the southeast. Early models said it could bring as much as 18 inches of rain to New Orleans and the Mississippi coast, though the storm’s impact could also be felt in the Tennessee Valley.

“Right now, there’s still a lot of uncertainty regarding this system and where it’s going to eventually track,” said Dan Dixon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Huntsville. “The forecast could drastically change by the time everything is said and done.”

Forecasting the weather for the next few days is made even more difficult by a cold front approaching from the northwest. Should the cold front and tropical system converge, North Alabama could experience a stormy few days.

“It’s looking like we’re going to get quite a bit of rain,” Dixon said, adding that much of the state is in a short-term drought. “It’s a good thing to some degree, but the downside is we don’t want to get a lot of rain over a very short period of time. That could result in some flooding.”

Though forecast models were not set in stone, he said North Alabama could receive as much as eight to 10 inches of rain in a worst-case scenario. Even worse, spin-off tornadoes from the tropical system are a possibility.

The only good news about next week’s weather could be cooler temperatures. Highs next week are expected to remain in the low-to-mid-80s with lows in the upper 50s and lower 60s.

Dixon said residents can expect the weather begin to change late Sunday, so college football games will not be impacted. Today’s highs, however, are expected to reach 97 degrees.


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