SUNDAY EVENING UPDATE: The National Hurricane Center has begun issuing advisories on Potential Tropical Cyclone Seven, which is forecast to become Tropical Storm Gordon by Tuesday in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. As of 5 pm, the system was located about 250 miles southeast of Miami, moving west-northwest at 15 mph. A Tropical Storm Watch was issued for coastal areas of Alabama, Mississippi, and eastern Louisiana for the potential of tropical storm conditions Tuesday night and Wednesday. Advisories will be considered for sections of South Florida later this evening if the system continues to organize and potentially develop further overnight.
A tropical weather system is likely to produce heavy rain and gusty winds across South Florida on Labor Day, before moving into the Gulf of Mexico where it could intensify into a tropical storm.
On Sunday afternoon, the weather feature of interest was located near the southern Bahamas and approaching the Straits of Florida just north of Cuba, producing a large area of showers and thunderstorms. The convection was easily seen from space on the GOES 16 visible satellite imagery, which was largely enhanced by the spin of a nearby upper-level area of low pressure.
In its 2 pm tropical outlook, the National Hurricane Center said the tropical wave now has a “high chance” of developing near South Florida Monday or in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday. On its way there, the disturbance, known to meteorologists as “Invest 91,” will approach South Florida Sunday Night and Monday.
SOUTH FLORIDA MONDAY
Heavy rain squalls, gusty winds and possible waterspouts will be the primary hazards from Miami to Fort Myers as the system passes through on Labor Day. Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches will be possible over the 24-hour period, with the heaviest falling from West Palm Beach to Miami in the morning hours, moving to the Southwest Florida beaches from Sarasota to Naples by afternoon. Waterspouts are also possible in the heavier rain squalls, along with choppy seas that will produce an elevated risk of rip currents along area beaches.
FLORIDA PANHANDLE TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY
Invest 91 will move into the eastern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday, likely still producing some periods of heavy rain immediately along the west coast of Florida Tuesday morning. Further north, the more persistent rain shield from the developing system will be aimed at western sections of the panhandle Tuesday night and Wednesday. The exact track and strength of the possible tropical storm will dictate where the heaviest rain will fall, but current forecast data suggests this is most likely to be west of Panama City and Tallahassee. Areas of the Emerald Coast from Destin to Pensacola could receive similar conditions Wednesday to what South Florida experiences Monday, namely heavy rain, possible waterspouts and gusty winds.
REST OF FLORIDA
To most Floridians across central and northern sections of the state, the presence of a nearby tropical system will likely go unnoticed. A slight uptick in the daily shower and thunderstorm activity is possible Monday and Tuesday, both in terms of intensity and coverage. There might be an increase in onshore winds along the Space Coast and First Coast early in the week that leads to an elevated risk or rip currents. However, significant impacts from Invest 91 are locations near and north of I-4 or east of Panama City at the present time.
The tropical system will continue moving northwest toward the central Gulf Coast states Wednesday, allowing normal weather conditions to return to much of Florida by Thursday. However, the tropical Atlantic is likely to stay active in the coming weeks as multiple systems move across the Atlantic Ocean, including newly formed Tropical Storm Florence. As the heart of hurricane season approaches, Floridians are urged to stay persistent in their awareness and vigilant in their preparations.