Chances of Tropical Development Increasing in Caribbean
Gainesville, Florida – A tropical depression or storm is now likely to form in the Western Caribbean over the next 24 hours and race toward South Florida. Hurricane Hunters are flying into the system this afternoon, and the National Hurricane Center gives the disturbance a “high chance” of developing. If the disturbance becomes a tropical storm, it would be called “Philippe.”
Regardless of development, heavy rain and gusty winds are likely to spread across areas near and south of a line extending from Fort Myers to Melbourne Saturday and Saturday night. This will be followed by another powerful cold front that will sweep across the entire peninsula Sunday.
Why Invest 93L Won’t be a Significant Tropical Threat?
As of Friday afternoon, a broad area of low pressure was producing a large area of showers and thunderstorms in the Western Caribbean Sea between Nicaragua and Jamaica. While satellite data suggests the system is becoming better organized, the window of opportunity for significant development will likely close quickly by Saturday. Water temperatures are warm enough, atmospheric moisture is plentiful, but strong upper-level winds will make it challenging for tropical cyclone formation once the low moves north of Cuba. This is thanks to an unseasonably strong cold front quickly approaching from the northwest, the second to pass through Florida in a week.
A Soggy Saturday Nonetheless
Labeled on forecast models as Invest 93, the low pressure system will continue to move north toward the Yucatan Channel Friday Night, then curve to the northeast toward the Straits of Florida (the waters between Cuba and Key West) on Saturday. Heavy rain, localized flooding and gusty winds will be the primary effects from the disturbance as it quickly passes through by early Sunday.
Periods of heavy rain will begin in the Keys by early Saturday morning. The downpours will then move up in the Miami metro area by mid-morning, spreading further north into the rest of South Florida by early afternoon. It’s questionable how far north the heavier rain from Invest 93 will move before the front pushes all the tropical moisture out into the Atlantic. The front itself may trigger a brief shower or two elsewhere across the state Saturday night, but it will effectively shut off all precipitation by midday Sunday.
Winds may gust as high as 30 mph in some of the heavier rain squalls over inland areas Saturday. A sustained wind of 20 to 25 mph is also possible over area lakes and waterways, with gusts up to gale force possible just offshore of the Atlantic Coast. Seas are likely to rise to between 3 and 5 feet, with minor coastal flooding possible in the typical flood prone areas.
Mariners and swimmers are encouraged to use caution or avoid the water altogether this weekend. Even when the rain moves out, strong northwest winds behind the front will replace the winds with the tropical system and be just as strong.
Written by Meteorologist Jeff Huffman (2pm cdt)