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Forecast podcast: Tropical Storm Alberto expected to drench parts of Texas and Mexico

Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Joe Veyera discuss Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of the season that’s expected to drench parts of Texas and Mexico, plus more on the Copa América soccer tournament in the U.S., the trial of U.S. reporter Evan Gershkovich in Russia and elections in Iran and Mongolia.

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These stories and others are also available in our free weekly Forecast newsletter.

This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Joe Veyera, Jeff Landset, Alex Moore, Ahmed Namatalla and James Morgan. Produced and edited by Jimmy Lovaas. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

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Factal Forecast podcast transcript

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.


Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.

Today is June 20.

In this week’s forecast we’ve got the first named storm of the hurricane season, the Copa América soccer tournament in the U.S., the trial of U.S. reporter Evan Gershkovich in Russia and elections in Iran and Mongolia. 

You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you’ll find a link to in the show notes.

First named storm of Atlantic hurricane season forms in the Gulf of Mexico

Information compiled by Joe Veyera

JIMMY: Up first, we’ll take a look at the first storm of the 2024 hurricane season. For more on that we’ve got our North America lead, Joe Veyera.

JIMMY: Hello, Joe.

JOE: Hey Jimmy. Good to be back. 

JIMMY: Glad you’re here. Looks like hurricane season is here as well. What do you have for us?

JOE: Yes, so Tropical Storm Alberto has formed in the Gulf of Mexico and that kicks off Atlantic hurricane season, with tropical storm warnings along much of the Texas coast and northeastern Mexico. This is about when we would expect to see the first storm of the year, so things are right on schedule for better or worse.

JIMMY: And what’s the latest? I know this is all unfolding, you know, literally as we speak, but any new developments?

JOE: Yes, so as of Wednesday afternoon, the storm was expected to reach the coast of northeastern Mexico early Thursday morning with concerns over life-threatening flooding and mudslides in areas of higher terrain across several Mexican states and the city of Monterey. Forecasters were also closely watching the potential for flash flooding along parts of the Texas coast, including Corpus Christi and Laredo. And this system is packing a lot of rainfall with estimates anywhere from 6 to 15 inches over the coming days and a storm surge of up to four feet. Wind is a secondary concern, but we could also see gusts in the 45 mph range in a lot of places. And the good news is we’re not expecting to see much strengthening beyond what we’ve already seen.

JIMMY: What sort of reactions and responses have you seen to the storm?

JOE: So on Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott increased the readiness level of the state emergency operations center to begin 24-hour operations and have resources ready to deploy as the system bears down on the coast. And by the time we recorded, we were already beginning to see power outages including several thousand in Texas’ Coastal Bend region.

JIMMY: Well then, I guess my final question as usual is, you know, what should folks be watching for next?

JOE: For Alberto, this is more of a concern for those areas of higher terrain across northeast Mexico. But while this storm isn’t expected to be particularly severe, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has forecast an above-average Atlantic hurricane season, with anywhere from 17 to 25 named storms and a range of 8 to 13 hurricanes. And that prediction was with an 85% confidence level, so they’re feeling pretty good about that. Other seasonal forecasts have also been in that ballpark, with researchers at Colorado State, the University of Arizona and the University of Missouri all separately settling on 11 hurricanes in their prediction, with five of them expected to be major.

JIMMY: Well, Joe, I guess we’ll pause there for today then. Always appreciate your briefings, though. Thanks for your time.

JOE: Anytime. I’m sure I’ll be back later in the season.

Copa America starts

Information compiled by Jeff Landset

JIMMY: The United States will welcome 16 of the Americas’ top national soccer teams for a three-week tournament that begins today in Atlanta.

In January last year, the FIFA groups that organize the Copa America tournament chose the United States to host after Ecuador withdrew. 

The decision was made in part to help the U.S. prepare for hosting the 2026 World Cup. 

Fourteen U.S. cities, including three in Texas and two in California, will host the 32 matches with the final being at the Miami Dolphins’ stadium in Florida.

Now, soccer fans from all around the Western Hemisphere will be traveling to the U.S. to watch their national team play in the biggest competition until the World Cup. 

Argentina’s Minister of Security says she has given a list to the U.S. of known violent soccer fans from her country as part of an agreement to keep the matches safe. 

The Copa America tournament will also give law enforcement an opportunity to see how a tournament will play out on U.S. soil before the biggest one yet in 2026.

Start date for Evan Gershkovich’s trial

Information compiled by Alex Moore

JIMMY: The trial for detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich will begin in Russia on Wednesday.

Gershkovich, you may recall, is an American national who was detained in Yekaterinburg, Russia, in March 2023 under espionage charges. 

While he and The Wall Street Journal have continuously denied the charges of attempting to gather intelligence on Russian tank production, his trial is now set to begin behind closed doors in a regional court in Yekaterinburg.

Now, Gershkovich is the first American journalist detained in Russia since the Cold War and he faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, 

Of course, it remains a likelihood that Russia will seek to use Gershkovich as a bargaining chip to exchange for a detained Russian. 

Earlier this week, the Kremlin confirmed such talks were already underway with American officials, leaving the possibility of a guilty verdict in the show trial all but certain.

Iran presidential election

Information compiled by Ahmed Namatalla

JIMMY: Iranian voters are set to pick one out of six pro-government candidates next Friday to serve as their next president. That, after the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash last month.

To make it to the ballot, the candidates had to be cleared by a vetting committee to ensure their loyalty to the system headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 

Among them, two conservatives have emerged as frontrunners: Parliament Speaker Mohammad Ghalibaf and former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. 

Lawmaker Masoud Pezeshkian is seen as a potential reformist, lacking his competitors’ strong ties to the country’s top security force. 

Now, the vote isn’t expected to impact the decades-old confrontation between Iran and Western nations seeking to curb its regional influence and limit its nuclear capabilities. 

After all, the 85-year-old Khamenei will continue to have final say over all foreign policy decisions. 

Still, the election has the potential to impact the country economically. 

In the first of multiple televised debates, the candidates promised voters to work to ease Western sanctions. 

Those sanctions have restricted oil exports, driven down the value of the local currency and caused inflation to spike. 

Iranian government opposition groups haven’t indicated a change in their stance to boycott elections, as they did most recently in March’s parliamentary polls

That election helped hardliners maintain a grip on parliament.

Mongolian parliamentary election

Information compiled by James Morgan

JIMMY: Mongolians will also vote next Friday.

It’s the county’s first election since a constitutional amendment in 2023 increased the number of parliamentary seats from 76 to 126. 

Of course, the election has been partially overshadowed by the death of an opposition politician who was reportedly beaten to death during a meeting.

Still, the issues of corruption, economic growth and social protection are expected to be key in the public vote.

Now, the killing of the opposition politician and the subsequent investigation are unlikely to seriously derail the election. 

The ruling center-left Mongolian People’s Party currently dominates parliament, occupying 61 of the 76 seats. It is expected to remain in government, according to recent polls

The increase in the number of parliamentarians, however, will likely mean greater opportunities for smaller parties to gain seats.

JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.  

Today’s episode included work from Factal editors Jeff Landset, Alex Moore, Ahmed Namatalla and James Morgan. Our interview featured editor Joe Veyera and our podcast is produced and edited by me – Jimmy Lovaas. Our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing

This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed. 

Copyright © 2024 Factal. All rights reserved.

Music: ‘Factal Theme’ courtesy of Andrew Gospe

Top photo: Tropical Storm Alberto moves inland over Mexico. (GIF: NOAA)

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