Ready or not, a tropical system could threaten Florida as early as Monday. Whether it has a name or not, heavy rain and flooding will be the biggest potential hazards. The panhandle is likely to be spared, but much of the peninsula could be soaked by several inches of rain over a two-day period starting Monday. If the system strengthens into a formidable tropical storm, minor wind damage and coastal flooding will also be possible somewhere from the Nature Coast to the Florida Keys.
Confidence is Growing
The National Hurricane Center has identified an area of interest as having a “medium” chance of development in the next five days near or just north of the Yucatan Peninsula.
This is a common location for early season activity, and when something forms, it typically moves toward Florida.
Forecast guidance is in reasonable agreement that a tropical area of low pressure will develop Sunday or Monday. What it does next is the big forecast challenge at this point.
The two big players on the field that will influence the system are an approaching front from the north and an upper-level area of low pressure over Texas. The location, strength and motion of both features will either contribute to or work against cyclone development.
The most likely scenario is that a weak tropical storm will be teaming up with the approaching front to produce significant rain and possible flooding across a large portion of the peninsula. Minor wind damage and isolated tornadoes would also be a concern, especially near and just south of the storm’s track. Other possible outcomes range from nothing more than a very weak tropical disturbance with lots of rain to something potentially as strong as a weak hurricane moving toward the west coast of Florida.
Tropical moisture will be funneled toward the state by an approaching front in Southeast US. Periods of heavy rain and thunder will become common in much of central and south Florida as early as Sunday afternoon. More widespread, heavier rain is expected Monday and Tuesday as the potential tropical development nears. The system and corresponding unsettled weather is expected to clear the state by Wednesday.
The Florida Public Radio Emergency Network will be monitoring the system all weekend long and provide frequent updates on social media and over the air on your local public radio station. Like of follow “Florida Storms” to receive this updates, or you can also download the mobile app Florida Storms.