The latest track released Wednesday evening by the National Hurricane Center shifted the path of the disturbance in the Atlantic slightly eastward, and is still expected to bring rain/wind to Florida by the weekend.
The good news about the potential tropical cyclone is that it’s not expected to become a hurricane but, unfortunately, it’s still dumping heavy rains and blowing tropical-storm-force winds along its path toward Florida.
The system is currently impacting the Leeward Islands, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
At 8 p.m., the disturbance was located 280 miles southeast of Santo Domingo with 45 mph winds and a minimum pressure of 1004 MB. It is moving west-northwest at a slightly slower speed of 18 mph, this general motion with a reduction in speed is expected over the next few days.
Some strengthening is expected during the next 48 hours, and the system is forecast to become a tropical storm later today.
On the forecast track, the system will move near or just south of Puerto Rico tonight, near or over Hispaniola on Thursday, and near or over eastern Cuba on Friday.
Tropical Storm warnings for:
Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra * U.S. Virgin Islands * British Virgin Islands * Anguilla * St. Martin and St. Barthelemy * Saba and St. Eustatius * St. Maarten * Dominican Republic entire southern and northern coastlines * North coast of Haiti from Le Mole St Nicholas eastward to the northern border with the Dominican Republic * Turks and Caicos Islands * Southeastern Bahamas including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for... * Central Bahamas, including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador Interests in the northwestern Bahamas and Cuba should monitor the progress of this system.
The government of Antigua has discontinued the Tropical Storm Warning for Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis.
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.
TRACKING THE TROPICS: Interactive map, watches/warnings
Surface observations from the Lesser Antilles show that the broader circulation of the disturbance has become slightly better defined but a recent Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft was still unable to find a well-defined circulation. Therefore, the system has not yet become a tropical storm. The aircraft measured peak flight-level winds of 46 kt and several SFMR winds of around 35 kt, so the initial intensity remains 40 kt for this advisory.
The long-term forecast showed the storm headed toward the southeastern U.S., though the Hurricane Center said, “It cannot be stressed enough that since the system is still in the formative stage, greater than average uncertainty exists regarding both the short-term and longer-term track and intensity forecasts.”
Deep convection has consolidated and there is some evidence of banding over the northern and western portions of the large circulation. As a result, the system is still expected to become a tropical storm when near the coast of the Dominican Republic. Some additional intensification is then possible before the system reaches Hispaniola on late Thursday, but weakening is likely to occur while it interacts with land. After that time, the system’s close proximity to eastern Cuba and an expected increase in southwesterly shear are likely to inhibit significant re-strengthening. The latest NHC maximum sustained wind speed forecast has been lowered from the previous advisory. Given the expected land interaction and less than ideal upper-level environment, it is best to remain conservative at this time.
There are several roadblocks to the development of a dangerous hurricane that work in our favor. All but two forecast models keep the tropical wave from becoming a hurricane. It appears strong upper-level winds due to a shearing trough west of the wave could prevent the disturbance from intensifying to a hurricane. Land interaction with Puerto Rico and Hispaniola could also disrupt organization.
Projecting impacts this far in advance will have wide adjustments in the forecast until the system becomes better organized. The Weather Authority will monitor the tropical wave’s progress and it wouldn’t impact South Florida until sunrise Saturday at the earliest.
Based on the current track, north Florida would have a drier Saturday compared to recent days this week with breezy 15-18 mph winds from the southeast.
Rain would move northward up the state overnight and Sunday would turn out wetter. The EURO has heavy rain sitting around through Monday and Tuesday as the low spins down in the northeast Gulf of Mexico.
Leaders in Florida are already watching the system closely. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Tuesday said the city is prepared to cope with both tropical conditions and the pandemic.
“We’ve been through this before in the five years I’ve been in office,” Curry said. “We practice for this. While a pandemic is nothing we’ve seen in our lifetime, they are navigating it, getting hospitals the proper PPE, keeping track of what’s happening, and we’ll continue to do what (needs to be) done during hurricane season as to what we’ve done in previous years.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday urged Floridians to be prepared.
“We still are not at the point where we really could, I think, credibly anticipate a trajectory. But I do think it is possible that there are impacts in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “People need to have their hurricane plan, secure seven days worth of supplies -- food, water, medicine -- just like you’re told to do at the beginning of hurricane season.”