JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Tropical Depression 6 strengthened into Tropical Storm Florence just west of the Cabo Verde Islands -- in the eastern Atlantic Ocean -- early Saturday morning. Florence had sustained winds of 40 p.m. as it moved west-northwest at 14 mph. It is expected to continue to move west and should move away from the islands by Saturday afternoon.
After Saturday, Florence will continue to move in a general west to northwest motion into early next week around the edge of a large dome of high pressure. On this path, Florence will encounter warm ocean waters and relatively light wind shear, favorable conditions for additional strengthening. Florence may even be able to strengthen into a hurricane over the next few days.
However, some drier air that is currently north of Florence may help limit its strengthening. Beyond Saturday morning, Florence should not impact any land mass.
Elsewhere, a strong tropical wave currently moving over the Turks and Caicos and eastern Cuba will continue to be monitored for tropical development over the next few days as it heads toward the Bahamas, South Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. Although this wave remains poorly organized at this time, locally heavy rainfall will continue to impact Hispaniola, eastern Cuba, the Turks and Caicos and the southern Bahamas Saturday. Eventually, heavier rain will move across the rest of the Bahamas this weekend and across South Florida Monday.
As this wave moves into the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday and beyond, environmental conditions may become more favorable for tropical development across the northern Gulf of Mexico. All interests in the northern Gulf of Mexico should carefully monitor this situation.