Subtropical storm likely to form off Florida coast, impact area beaches

System may become season’s first named storm

National Hurricane Forecast (wjxt)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A trough of low pressure over South Florida is tarting to organize itself, if this continues we could have the first named storm of the 2020 hurricane season this weekend.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami increased the chance of the system becoming tropical over the next two days to 100%. Gale warnings were issued across the Florida Keys, Southwest Florida and the Bahamas.

Just before 4:30 p.m. Saturday the NHC tweeted that it will initiate advisories on Tropical Depression One at 5 p.m.

While the system is likely to become Tropical Storm Arthur while off our coast, we’ll be on the dry side of the storm and will likely only feel its impact along the immediate coastline.

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Hurricane season starts June 1, but forecasters at the hurricane center said the system, which was already bringing heavy rain and wind across South Florida this weekend, has a 100% chance of developing into a subtropical or tropical storm. If it develops, the storm would be named Arthur.

Subtropical storms are not as defined as tropical storms, with its strongest winds located some distance from it’s loosely formed center. They are also not a strong as tropical storms. It’s not uncommon to have a named storm before the official start of hurricane season.

Later in the weekend and early next week, the system is forecast to move generally northeastward over the western Atlantic.

The forecast led Florida emergency management officials to close 14 state-run COVID-19 test sites on Friday, but they plan to reopen on Monday.

Helen Aguirre Ferre, the communications director for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, said on Twitter that it’s the right move. “With possible wind gusts of 40 mph, it is best for public safety to reopen on Monday. It’s also common sense,” she tweeted Thursday night.

The full Friday afteroon statement from the NHC:

1. Data from the Air Force Hurricane Hunters and satellite images indicate that the low pressure system located just off the coast of east-central Florida has become better defined today. In addition, the associated showers and thunderstorms continue to gradually organize. If these trends continues, advisories will likely be initiated on this system as a tropical or subtropical depression later today. Later in the weekend and early next week, the system is expected to move generally northeastward over the western Atlantic near or east of the Carolinas.

The system will continue to bring gusty winds and locally heavy rains across portions of east-central Florida through tonight. Interests near the North Carolina coast should closely monitor the progress of this system, as it could produce gusty winds and heavy rains there on Monday, and a tropical storm watch will likely be issued for that area later today. In addition, hazardous marine conditions will spread northward during the next few days, likely causing dangerous surf and rip currents along much of the southeast and mid-Atlantic coasts of the U.S. See products from your local National Weather Service office for more details. Another Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate the system this evening. The next Special Tropical Weather Outlook on this system will be issued by 9 PM EDT today, or earlier if needed.

* Formation chance through 48 hours...high...near 100 percent.

* Formation chance through 5 days...high...near 100 percent.

There will be minimal impact on weather in Northeast Florida beyond higher surf and risk for rip currents along our beaches. Saturday may have a few more clouds and a tiny chance for a shower, it’s only a small (20%) chance. We may see an isolated shower or two as a mostly dry cold front pushes through our area. Winds will be out of the northeast around 15-20 mph.

Temperatures will top out in the mid-80s. Sunday looks warmer, with temperatures starting in the mid-60s and warming into the upper 80s under mostly sunny skies. Winds will be out of the northeast at just under 10 mph.

Monday the 90s are back in the forecast with plenty of sunshine and light winds.