Tropical storm warnings are in effect Friday for over 10 million people in the southern half of Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas.
Potential Tropical Cyclone 1 is producing sustained tropical storm-force winds of 40 mph with stronger gusts, data from the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters indicates.
“The system is expected to develop a well-defined center and become a tropical storm later today, and some slight strengthening is possible while it approaches Florida” on Friday and Friday night, the hurricane center said.
A tropical storm warning is in effect Friday morning for Miami, Sarasota, the Florida Keys, West Palm Beach, Melbourne, Dry Tortuga, Florida Bay and Lake Okeechobee, as well as along Florida’s west coast, south of the middle of Longboat Key to Englewood, and the state’s east coast, south of the Volusia-Brevard county line to Card Sound Bridge.
Several of those places earlier had been under tropical storm watches.
That puts the storm on track to intensify and become a tropical storm sometime Friday afternoon, with landfall expected in southwest Florida on Saturday morning, forecasters said.
“Whether the storm organizes or not, a significant flood event is possible across south Florida and the Keys,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers says. “It is too early to say where the heaviest rainfall will be because it isn’t even a storm yet, but models are indicating that 12 to 16 inches of rain are possible in the worst areas.”
“There is still some variability on how this system will track, but heavy precipitation capable of scattered to numerous flash flooding is certainly plausible through southern Florida and into the Keys,” the Weather Prediction Center (WPC) said Thursday morning.
They are forecasting a moderate risk — level 3 of 4 — for excessive rainfall, leading to flash flooding. Deep tropical moisture will surge ahead of the probable storm and over South Florida throughout the day on Friday and into Saturday.
A potential tropical cyclone is a term the hurricane center developed so it can issue watches and warnings for a storm system that is expected to develop as it approaches land. Before this change, watches and warnings couldn’t be issued until a tropical storm actually developed, which limited lead time on critical warnings.
South Florida is most likely in the path
The computer forecast models are beginning to concur that a tropical storm or depression will form and hit southern Florida.
“The latest model guidance is starting to come into some agreement towards this low passing somewhere over the southern portion of the Florida peninsula during the day on Saturday,” the National Weather Service in Miami said…