Caribbean System Could Become a Hurricane Threat to Florida

As Hurricane Fiona rages north and Tropical Storm Gaston meanders into the Atlantic, a system now in the Caribbean is drawing the attention of long-term forecasts that could bring it near Florida next week.

The National Hurricane Center continues to advise on the two storms mentioned, including strong Category 4 Hurricane Fiona that could pose a threat to Bermuda, but it also maintains the chances of three systems that could become the next tropical depression or storm. .

At the top of the list is a tropical wave with rain and thunderstorms that are already bringing heavy rains and gusts to the southern Windward Islands and soon to Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, northwestern Venezuela and northeastern Colombia.

“High-level winds are currently inhibiting development, the top-level wind pattern for the system is expected to become slightly more favorable in a few days, and a tropical depression is likely to form at that time,” the US Navy said. Hurricane specialist Dave Roberts.

The system is expected to move west-northwest this weekend and be in the central Caribbean. The NHC gives it a 70% chance of forming in the next two days and 90% within the next five days.

Long-term forecasting models, often called spaghetti models, have several paths for the system, but several expect it to travel over Cuba next week and threaten Florida.

Acting National Hurricane Center director Jamie Rhome, however, urged caution with speculation, saying it is likely to turn into a hurricane while still in the Caribbean Sea.

“What we can say is that conditions look favorable for this system to develop into a tropical storm as it moves west-northwest across the central Caribbean Sea,” he said. “And conditions seem favorable for a potential hurricane here in the northwestern Caribbean Sea. That’s how far we can go right now.”

He pointed out that the system, which interacts with land around South America, can influence the formation and final track.

“While a low-level circulation is trying to form… it’s not there yet and why is this important? Why is it so important to concentrate? Because the predictability of systems that have not yet formed is very, very low,” he said. “And I want to emphasize that because that’s why we can’t say too much about potential impacts in the Gulf of Mexico, because until this system actually forms and becomes a well-defined naming system, the ability of models will increase people’s ability to predict where it will go is just very, very, very low.”

The NHC also tracks two more systems with a lower probability of formation.

Closer to Florida in the central tropical Atlantic, but with lower odds, is a broad low pressure area several hundred miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. It has disorganized showers and thunderstorms, but is only marginal environmental conditions in what the NHC says.

“Slow development of this system is possible in the coming days as it moves slowly northwest or north across the tropical Atlantic Ocean,” Roberts said.

The NHC gives a 20% chance of forming in the next two days and a 30% chance in the next five.

Further afield, but more likely to form, is a tropical wave off the west coast of Africa with showers and thunderstorms now over the warm waters of the far eastern Atlantic.

“Environmental conditions are predicted to be conducive to some development, and a tropical depression could form this weekend as the system moves slowly northwards, between West Africa and the Cape Verde Islands,” Roberts said.

The chance is 60% for formation in the next two to five days.

Whichever system gets sustained winds of 39 mph or more would be named Tropical Storm Hermine, with next names on the hurricane list Ian and Julia.

The largest storm in the Atlantic, however, is Hurricane Fiona, which is now raging north and is expected to pass by Bermuda and attack Canada.

As of 11 a.m., the NHC places its center about 410 miles southwest of Bermuda, currently under a hurricane warning and where weather conditions are expected to worsen later in the day. It remains a major Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 mph and stronger gusts moving north-northeast at 25 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend for 70 miles with tropical gale force winds extend for 205 miles.

The Canadian Hurricane Center has issued hurricane watches for Nova Scotia from Hubbards to Brule, Prince Edward Island, Isle-de-la-Madeleine and the Newfoundland coast from Parson’s Pond to Port-Aux-Basques. It also issued tropical storm watches from St. Andrews, New Brunswick west of Hubbards, Nova Scotia; from west of Brule, Nova Scotia to Cap Madeleine, Quebec; for Anticosti Island; from Johan Beetz Bay, Quebec to northern Parson’s Pond, Newfoundland;, from West Bay, Labrador to Hare Bay, Newfoundland; and from St. Lawrence to the east of Port-Aux-Basques, Newfoundland.

“North-northeast or northeasterly movement with an increase in forward speed is expected from today through Friday, followed by a slightly slower northward movement from Friday evening or Saturday,” said NHC senior hurricane specialist Daniel Brown. “On the predicted track, downtown Fiona will pass just west of Bermuda tonight, approaching Nova Scotia on Friday, and moving across Nova Scotia to the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Saturday.”

While not a threat to Florida, Fiona swells are spreading west and can cause life-threatening surf and current conditions on the US east coast, including Florida and the Bahamas.

It is expected to increase forward speed this weekend and transition into a powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds as it moves over Nova Scotia this weekend.

Farther out in the Atlantic is Tropical Storm Gaston, which has placed several of the Azores Islands under a Tropical Storm Warning.

As of 11 a.m., the NHC places downtown Gaston approximately 315 miles west-northwest of Faial Island in the Central Azores with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph moving east-northeast at 21 mph. The tropical storm winds extend for 115 miles.

“A turn to the east is expected tonight, and a slower southeast or southerly movement is forecast for early Saturday. On the predicted track, the center of Gaston will move near or over parts of the Azores tonight through Saturday,” NHC forecasters said.

The system is expected to weaken over the next few days, then shift south and back east as it transitions into a post-tropical cyclone.

Since September 1, the tropics have begun to catch up with four named storms in three weeks after nearly two months of silence.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration updated its seasonal forecast in early August that 2022 would still be above average with 14 to 21 named storms, though no named storms formed during the month of August.

The 2020 hurricane season set a record with 30 named systems, while the 2021 season was the third most active season with 21 named systems. An average year calls for 14 named storms.

Via Gaston, 2022 has delivered seven systems mentioned.

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