Friday, October 7, 2022

Tropical System Forecast to Strengthen Into Hurricane With Florida in Its Sights


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After Hurricane Fiona ripped through Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, leaving widespread destruction in its wake, another tropical storm system is now brewing in the Caribbean –– and could hit Florida as early as next week.

Tropical Depression Nine, which developed in the Caribbean early Friday, is forecast to strengthen into a tropical storm over the next 24 hours and become a hurricane by Monday morning. The National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) latest data shows the majority of South Florida –– including Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties –– in the forecast cone for the hurricane.

“Now is the time to make sure you have your hurricane plan ready if you need to enact it,” advised a tweet this morning from the National Weather Service’s Miami office.

As noted on Twitter by University of Oklahoma Atmospheric Science student Tomer Burg, Tropical Depression Nine is competing with another storm, Invest 90L, for the name Hermine. If Invest 90L strengthens into a named storm first, it will become Hermine, and Tropical Depression Nine will be named Ian.

According to the NHC’s latest advisory for Tropical Depression Nine, the storm is expected to continue westward later today before scraping across the central Caribbean Sea on Saturday, passing south of Jamaica that evening and approaching the Cayman Islands by early Monday.

It is then forecast to move either near or over western Cuba early next week as a strengthening hurricane before approaching the Florida peninsula “at or near hurricane strength,” with the chance of significant impact from storm surge, hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall.

The system had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph Friday morning. A tropical depression is assigned a name once its sustained wind speeds reach 39 mph.

The NHC is imploring residents in Cuba and Florida to have a hurricane plan in place and monitor forecast updates through the weekend.

The tropical depression could bring heavy rain, flash flooding, and mudslides in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao.

Jamie Rhome, acting NHC director, said that the storm is too far away from Florida to reliably predict its potential impact on the state. He said, however, there is a possibility that it may strike the Sunshine State as a Category 3 hurricane.

“I’m a Floridian too, so I’m gonna speak to you candidly — don’t panic. We are still in the early stages of this event,” Rhome said Friday. “We have some time. That said, if you are watching us from Florida, and I practice what I preach … you really need to start going through your hurricane supplies, making sure you have everything on hand.”

The last major hurricane to directly strike Florida was Hurricane Michael on October 10, 2018. The storm reached Category 5 strength, with 160 mph sustained winds, before it ravaged Mexico Beach, Panama City and the surrounding area in the Florida Panhandle. Michael was the first Category 5 storm to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Hurricane Irma in September 2017 was the last major hurricane to directly hit South Florida. The massive storm was a Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall in the Florida Keys, with tropical storm force winds extending 400 miles out from the eye. The hurricane caused an estimated $50 billion in damage in Florida, making it one of the costliest U.S. storms on record, according to the National Hurricane Center.

click to enlarge

Tropical Depression Nine Forms in the Caribbean Sea on September 23, 2022.

Photo by the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service

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(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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