After a slow start, the Atlantic hurricane season is active with five tropical systems, including powerful Hurricane Fiona, Storm Gaston and three tropical waves. One of them is of special attention to Florida and the US Gulf Coast.
Tropical wave Invest 98-L in the southeastern Caribbean Sea could become a tropical depression in the next two days, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said and other forecasters forecast it would strengthen into Storm Hermine.
“The disturbance is forecast to move west-northwestward across the eastern Caribbean Sea over the next day or two, and will be over the central Caribbean Sea this weekend. Regardless of development, local heavy rains and gusty winds are likely to affect the Windward Islands, northern Venezuela, and the ABC island chain (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao) today. These impacts are likely to extend into northeastern Colombia later tonight,” the NHC said Thursday.
Its formation probability is 80% at 48 hours and 90% at five days.
“It’s still too early to tell if it could affect South Florida, but now is a good time to review your hurricane plans!” suggested the Miami National Weather Service.
WPLG Local 10 News Meteorologist Brandon Orr said, “This will likely be a named storm as it moves near or just south of Jamaica on Sunday. Until a center is developed, the long-term path is too uncertain. We just need to monitor this one in South Florida for now.”
Adam Berg, Meteorologist for NBC6. Berg said the European model places the tropical system near Florida, but the US GFS model places it in the west central Gulf of Mexico, which “would be good news for Florida.”
AccuWeather forecasters consider Invest 98L to be the “system of greatest concern” to people in the Caribbean, and perhaps the United States.
Paul Pastelok explained that if the system can avoid drifting over South America, it could become a tropical storm “anytime between now and Friday while over the eastern Caribbean.”
“Although initial organization and strengthening may be a bit slow with the system, it could start to rapidly intensify as it reaches the central and western Caribbean this weekend through early next week, Pastelok explained.
As Invest 98L moves forward, it will find the ideal conditions for a tropical system to thrive and strengthen, including warm water, said AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski.
Water temperatures are generally in the 80s F in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Straits of Florida, with areas of even warmer water.
“Sea surface temperatures are close to 90 F in places along the projected path of the system. That’s warm enough to sustain a developing tropical cyclone, and even warm enough to quickly strengthen if other environmental factors line up,” he detailed.
Wind shear, or winds that can sometimes disrupt tropical storm formation or organization, are also expected to remain low along the system’s track.
Fiona, Gastón and other waves
Outer rain bands from powerful Hurricane Fiona arrived in Bemuda Thursday afternoon, increasing the risk of significant impacts from winds, heavy rains and storm surge.
Fiona remained a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale of a maximum of 5 with winds of 130 miles per hour (215 km / h).
The NHC forecast that it will begin to weaken on Friday into a large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds when it moves over Nova Scotia on Friday.
As of 11 pm Thursday, the center of Fiona is 195 miles (315 kilometers) west of Bermuda and 910 miles (1,465 kilometers) south-southwest of Halifax, in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.
A hurricane watch remained in place and a hurricane watch was issued for portions of the east coast of Canada.
Fiona left a trail of death and destruction in Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
After passing Bermuda, it will approach Nova Scotia on Friday and move towards the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Canada, on Saturday, the NHC detailed.
The storm surge generated by Fiona is affecting the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, the southeastern US and Bermuda.
Forecasters forecast 2 to 4 inches of rain for Bermuda, 3 to 6 inches for Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island and western Newfoundland with a maximum of 10 inches, and 2 to 5 inches for eastern Quebec.
Storm Gaston kept maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 km/h) and was located 205 miles (330 km) northwest of the Azores Islands.
The NHC reported that another tropical wave could develop into a tropical depression off the west coast of Africa this weekend. It has a 60% chance of development within five days.
In the eastern central Atlantic a tropical wave would have slow development as it moves west. Its formation probability is 20% at 48 hours and 30% at five days.
This story was originally published on September 22, 2022 10:14 a.m.