The chances are on the rise for a tropical cyclone to form this weekend near Florida.
The chances that a tropical cyclone will form near or over South Florida this weekend are on the rise as an area of widespread storminess near eastern Cuba gets better organized.
National Hurricane Center forecasters are giving the trough of low pressure, dubbed Invest 95L, an 80 percent chance of development over the next five days, and a 70 percent chance over the next 48 hours.
Advisories will likely be initiated on the system later today as a potential tropical cyclone - a designation that allows the NHC to issue watches and warnings on a sytem not yet full developed.
A tropical depression or tropical storm is likely to form from the area of disturbed weather located over the central and southeastern Bahamas. Heavy rainfall and gusty winds will affect portions of the Bahamas through Friday#AL95https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gBpic.twitter.com/UGcx2PXJ6V— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic)September 12, 2019
If a tropical storm forms, it would be named Humberto.
For South Florida, it means a weekend of squally weather with rain chances as high as 70 percent Friday and Saturday.
Thunderstorms and wind gusts of 22 mph are possible as the developing system moves northwestward at 5 to 10 mph across the Florida Straits and southern Florida, and into the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Sept 12 Overnight Tropical Update: We continue to monitor an area of showers & storms near the SE Bahamas. A Tropical Depression is likely to form by the weekend around the region. Locally heavy rain and gusty winds are possible through the weekend.#flwxpic.twitter.com/S0egxFkxfs— NWS Miami (@NWSMiami)September 12, 2019
An Air Force hurricane hunter is scheduled to investigate the system this afternoon.
The National Weather Service in Miami is warning of possible tornadoes as the system passes near South Florida. Dangerous rip currents and heavy rain with localized flooding are also possible.
The area NHC has marked for development of the disturbance stretches from the southeastern Bahamas through Florida’s Panhandle.
READ MORE: The Palm Beach Post’s hurricane tracking map
Sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are running between 84 and 88 degrees, which is plenty warm to feed a growing storm.
The system is also expected to find less wind shear in the eastern Gulf, which could also buoy development.
Bob Henson, a meteorologist with Weather Underground, an IBM business, said models show the system either moving through the Florida Straits and over South Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, or across southwest Florida.
“Almost half of the GFS ensemble members bring 95L to tropical storm strength, which makes sense given the longer GFS tracks over the very warm waters of the Gulf, while only about 15 percent of Euro members produce a tropical storm,” Henson wrote in a Wednesday column. “Nearly all members of both ensembles yield at least a tropical depression in the next few days.”
But atmospheric scientist Ryan Maue said there was a dramatic shift in models early Thursday that shows 95L taking a trip up Florida’s east coast.
“Gone is any hint of Gulf of Mexico,” he wrote in a social media post.
The most recent ECMWF model has a dramatic shift in Invest 95L track.
Gone is any hint of Gulf of Mexico, instead developing a powerful Hurricane off the Southeast Coast in 3-5 days.
This is a surprising turn of events.pic.twitter.com/xXAmuClLEJ
The updated ECMWF EPS track prediction for Invest#95L is very bad news for the Caribbean. Just weeks away from being devastated by Hurricane#Dorian, there is another threat here.pic.twitter.com/wM45hyOiYH— Michael Ventrice (@MJVentrice)September 12, 2019
A second system in the tropical Atlantic is also picking up steam.
The wave, located just west of the Cabo Verde Islands, is producing a small area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms. With conditions improving ahead of it for development, the NHC is giving the system a 40 percent chance of formation over five days.
South Florida temperatures are expected to be near normal during the day with highs near 90. But it will be abnormally warm at night, dipping to just 80 degrees. The normal overnight low this time of year is 75.
West Palm Beach dipped only to 83 degrees Wednesday morning, breaking an overnight heat record of 82 set in 2008.
With some disagreement in where the would-be Humberto will track, Miami forecasters aren’t ruling out the possibility of some drier air this weekend.
“If a more easterly/northerly track comes to fruition, the likely lopsided nature of weather tropical systems would potentially bring some drier air around the area,” meteorologists wrote in a morning forecast. “A track more to the south and into the Gulf of Mexico would potentially keep the tropical moisture around the region longer.”
The next name on the 2019 tropical cyclone list is Imelda.
This story originally published to palmbeachpost.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network via the Florida Wire. The Florida Wire, which runs across digital, print and video platforms, curates and distributes Florida-focused stories. For more Florida stories, visit here, and to support local media throughout the state of Florida, consider subscribing to your local paper.