We continue to monitor the development of a tropical wave (Invest 90L) that is located near Cancun Mexico. It is expected to drift northward in the coming days with some gradual development possible by this weekend.
CHANCES FOR DEVELOPMENT:
The National Hurricane Center is giving this area a HIGH chance for development by Saturday as it slowly moves northward. Wind shear caused by an upper level low pressure over the northern Gulf will likely keep the system from organizing more quickly. Wind shear in moderate to high amounts is unfavorable for development. The latest computer model forecasts vary in intensity for the system, with all of them keeping it weak, and at the most a low-end tropical storm but more likely a subtropical or tropical depression.
WHERE IS IT GOING?
It is becoming more clear as to where this storm may go. The latest computer model forecasts have narrowed in on a solution with landfall from Mobile AL east to the Florida Panhandle. Keep in mind, with most of the rain on the east side of the system, this westward track will still put SWFL in a favorable area for locally heavy rainfall through this weekend. I DO NOT expect the storm to become anything more than a big rainmaker for our state, but given recent rains...that will potentially cause some problems.
Right now this system will mainly be a rain-producer with the potential for 5-7" of rain with locally higher amounts in some areas. It is still uncertain who will see the heaviest rain, but given the latest forecast track it appears that the heaviest rain will stay just offshore of the Florida West Coast and will likely move toward the Panhandle with the core of the storm. I expect bands of rain to rotate and spread through the region on Saturday into Sunday. Depending on the evolution of the system, there is a chance that we could see a few isolated tornadoes in the outer rain bands as they spread through the area. Heavy rainfall however will be the biggest issue with this storm. Our beaches will also see a risk for rip currents due to gusty winds associated with this system.
Prepare for higher rain chances this weekend. Regardless of development, this system will not be anything more significant than a big rain producer for the state. This is not minimizing the threat for flooding, because that is a serious issue by itself, but this will not be a big wind producer and there won't be issues with storm surge. The storm will be a big inconvenience for many of you with outdoor plans this weekend due to it being so wet. Prepare for the potential for locally heavy rainfall that could cause ponding of flooding on roadways and low-lying areas. A FLOOD WATCH will likely be issued for parts of South Florida by this weekend. Also area beaches will be dealing with high surf and potentially dangerous rip currents if a more onshore component to the wind develops.
We will keep you posted on the latest changes in the forecast as we get closer to the weekend!
FOX 4 CHIEF METEOROLOGIST DEREK BEASLEY