The moisture from Tropical Storm Harvey has already produced flash flooding near Pensacola, and more heavy rain is possible across north Florida through Friday. Tropical Storm Irma has formed in the eastern Atlantic, and it could become a long-lived hurricane with potential U.S. implications in about ten days. Also, a new area of interest in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico is being closely monitored for possible tropical development this weekend.
Let’s start with Harvey. A Flash Flood Watch continues through Thursday evening for Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties.
While the steadiest rains have subsided in the area, new rainbands are still likely to rotate in from the west overnight and through much of Thursday. The heavy rain potential with shift east into Tallahassee and Jacksonville metro areas by Friday, with a few locally strong afternoon thunderstorms also possible. An isolated tornado can’t be ruled out if a strong storm develops, but that risk remains rather low.
Irma became the ninth named storm of the season Wednesday, and as of the late-afternoon advisory from the National Hurricane Center, already had winds up to 60 mph.
The storm was moving west-northwest at 15 mph and expected to become a hurricane by Thursday afternoon. Several reliable forecast models project Irma to be a long-lived hurricane, and possibly even become a Major Hurricane
The National Hurricane Center is also watching the Gulf. A new disturbance over the Bay of Campeche has a “low chance” of developing this weekend. Unfortunately, it is possible that this new system could bring heavy rain to waterlogged parts of Texas and Louisiana. However, confidence in the outcome of this potential development is quite low.
While it’s far too soon to discuss any specifics on how Irma or the Gulf system may threaten any land areas, Floridians are encouraged to pay close attention to future advisories on Irma and bring any hurricane seasonal preparations to completion in the coming days. The peak of the Atlantic season is only two weeks away.