Very warm waters and relatively light winds aloft will yield an environment favorable for tropical storm development just offshore of Florida’s Atlantic Coast in the next 48 hours. The National Hurricane Center says there is a “high chance” a tropical depression could form from a weak area of low pressure (referenced as Invest 91L) spinning a couple hundred miles east of Cape Canaveral. If the system remains over water, it could strengthen and become our first named tropical storm of the season, which would be called Arthur. Current forecast data suggests that the soon-to-be depression will drift slowly toward east-central Florida by midweek, then turn north and eventually northeastward away from Florida by week’s end. At the present time, only minor impacts in terms of heavy rain and unsettled offshore waters are expected for portions of the state. However, forecast uncertainty is high regarding the eventual track and strength of this system.
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POTENTIAL IMPACTS THROUGH THURSDAY
- Heavy rain at times for central and south Florida, especially south of I-4 corridor
- Water spout and rip current risk is elevated along the Atlantic coast
- Offshore waters unsettled, but risk of any wind or flooding along coast is very low
On its present southwest course, Invest 91L could slowly approach Florida’s Treasure Coast on Tuesday, before it likely makes a sharp turn to the north and eventually northeast where further strengthening is a possibility. At this time, due to the relatively weak nature of the system and low confidence in the eventual track, the forecast impacts along the coast remain a bit uncertain. Further inland, for much of central and south Florida, heavy rain and stronger thunderstorms will be common as the system passes slowly by Tuesday and Wednesday. Most of this activity will be focused near and south of the I-4 corridor, where some storms could produce heavy rain, gusty winds and possible water spouts. Total rainfall projections near and just west of where 91L moves are between 2 and 5 inches through Thursday, but these numbers are subject to change based on the storm’s eventual track and strength.
Although it will seem backwards to some, it’s not unusual for systems to move this direction this time of year. Weak and sometimes sudden shifts in the steering currents aloft can result in chaotic movement to early season storms, and it appears soon-to-be depression number “one” will exemplify those traits, meandering around a bit for a couple of days over the Gulf Stream. Water temperatures in the vicinity of 91L are warmer than normal, running in the middle 80’s in some spots. Wind shear and dry air have recently impeded the progress of Invest 91L on it’s road to maturing into a tropical cyclone. However, both are expected to wain by Tuesday when deeper moisture will be drawn into the system and higher pressure builds aloft.
Considering the uncertainty in the eventual track and strength of this system, especially since it hasn’t developed yet, Floridians along or near the Atlantic Coast should stay informed on future forecast updates.