Tropical Depression 18 became Tropical Storm Sandy late Monday afternoon and was located approximately 900 miles south of Miami, Florida. The upper-level environment is conducive for strengthening and water temperatures are still plenty warm, leading to higher than normal confidence that Sandy will strengthen over the next 48 hours. Some of the model guidance even suggests Sandy could strengthen rapidly at times before nearing Jamaica on Wednesday. Hurricane hunter aircraft is scheduled to fly into the storm this evening and the data can be viewed live on WRUF-TV6.
Tropical Storm Sandy is forecast to move to the north or north-northeast after development, likely crossing or moving in between the islands of Jamaica, Cuba, and Hispaniola mid-week. The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center is for [Sandy] to be a strong tropical storm or possibly a weak hurricane as it nears the island of Jamaica late on Wednesday. High pressure is expected to briefly build over the storm and possibly cause it slow as it approaches the Bahamas later in the week. Thereafter, forecast confidence is severely lacking due to the different model solutions on how strong a trough of low pressure and cold front will be over the U.S. mid-section. The track and strength of [Sandy] prior to the point when this trough begins to affect the storm will play a big role in determining the eventual track and potential influences on the state of Florida.
HISTORY OF STORMS RELATED TO SANDY
It may not feel very tropical anymore in Florida, but that doesn’t mean we can’t see tropical weather. The 2012 Hurricane Season doesn’t officially end until November 31st, but history tells us that late-season storms can and have hit the state. This is especially true when they form in the Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico.
We looked at the history of storms hitting Florida during the period of October 20 – November 10 since 1900 and found that the majority of tracks came out of the Caribbean or the Gulf rather than from the Atlantic. Of the 14 storms plotted, four originated in the Gulf and six formed in the western Caribbean. The latter location is very close to where our next Tropical Storm is likely to form. Gladys was the most-recent hurricane to cross the state from the Caribbean during this 20-day period, making landfall on the Nature Coast south of Cedar Key in 1968. Tropical Storm Gordon, however, may be fresher in Floridian’s minds, following a very erratic path and making landfall twice in 1994.
THE BOTTOM LINE
While it may be too early to talk specifics on soon-to-be Sandy, it’s never too early for Floridians to prepare for a potential landfall of a tropical cyclone. To that end, it’s also never too late in the season to come up with a plan and stock up on supplies. Tropical Updates are always available on WRUF-TV6 at 20 minutes past the hour. We’re also on the radio, delivering a complete tropical update every day at 4:50pm on Florida’s 89.1, WUFT-FM. Follow @gatorweather on Twitter for breaking weather information any time of day.