A disturbance in the Atlantic is likely to strengthen into a tropical storm on a possible path toward Florida by this weekend.
Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other islands in the Caribbean are under a tropical storm warning as Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine moves west across the Atlantic.
As of Tuesday at 11 a.m., the system was located about 940 miles east-southeast of the Leeward Islands and moving west at 23 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Maximum sustained winds are 40 mph with higher gusts.
On its current track, the system – which is forecast to become Tropical Storm Isaias by Tuesday night or Wednesday – could impact southeast Florida with at least increased rain chances this weekend.
The U.S. Air Force Reserve will send a reconnaissance aircraft to investigate the system on Tuesday afternoon.
The long-range track and intensity forecast for this system remain uncertain at this time given the unorganized structure of the potential cyclone.
The majority of weather models agree that this system will likely approach the Windward Islands and take a northerly turn over the eastern Greater Antilles. If the system comes into contact with these larger islands, it could help to keep the storm below hurricane strength as it approaches the Sunshine State by Saturday night and overnight into Sunday.
There is still the possibility that Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine will remain out at sea and turn before impacting the continental United States, or even dissipate before approaching Florida.
“We are still a long way out, but it looks like this system will track northwestward toward the Bahamas and southeastern Florida by the weekend," Florida Public Radio Emergency Network meteorologist Megan Borowski said. "As far as the intensity of the system goes, it’s a toss-up right now. There are some environmental features present that could promote strengthening, but also others that could inhibit development."
In the near term, forecasters say the Leeward Islands could experience tropical storm conditions on Wednesday, and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands could see the same by Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
The system could produce 3-6 inches of rain, with isolated totals of 10 inches across the northern Leeward Islands.
This could be the earliest ninth named storm on record in the North Atlantic basin. The current record for the earliest "I" named storm was "Irene" on August 7, 2005.
Information from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network was used in this report.