South Florida is watching for possible tropical storms and heavy rains
A sloppy cloudfall near the Yucatan Peninsula is expected to bring torrential rains to South Florida from Friday through Saturday, whether or not its tropical aspirations come true.
The low-pressure area — fed by the remnants of Agatha and feeding off the warm waters of the western Caribbean Sea — was given a strong chance of developing into the first tropical depression of 2022 by the National Hurricane Center on Wednesday evening.
The system has been dubbed Invest 91L – a designation that triggers a deeper dive into models that examine what the atmosphere is cooking up.
If the system gathers a tropical storm force of winds of 39 mph or more, it would be called Alex. Alex replaced Andrew after the 1992 Cat 5 storm shredded parts of Miami-Dade County. Bonnie is the second name on this year’s list of tropical cyclones.
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“This one definitely picked the right date to show up,” said Miami-based National Weather Service meteorologist Sami Hadid. “The main message to the public is that this system is going to bring lots of heavy rain, and flooding is definitely a possibility.”
Wednesday was the first day of hurricane season, which ends in late November. It’s the first year since 2014 that a named storm hasn’t formed until June 1.
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Hadid warned that the system’s track could alter rain forecasts, but models were more in agreement Wednesday that a trough deepening across the United States would push the soggy side of the disturbance south to Florida.
Tracing the path of a system is difficult without a closed circulation center – which was still missing on Wednesday afternoon.
“Obviously things can change,” Hadid said.
The NWS in Miami has scheduled a special briefing Thursday to update the status of the system.
Palm Beach County could receive between 1.75 and 5.5 inches of rain
Rainfall amounts of up to 7.5 inches at the far southern tip of Florida are possible, with Palm Beach County reaching between 1.75 and 5.5 inches.
A second area monitored by the hurricane center is about 150 miles northeast of the Bahamas. It has a 10% chance of development when moving east-northeast towards the sea.
Agatha, a Category 2 Pacific hurricane that made landfall in Mexico, dissipated over land on Tuesday. If it had kept its circulation closed and remained a cyclone as it entered the Caribbean Sea, Hadid said he would have kept the Agatha name.
Other systems made similar unsuccessful attempts to retain their names as they crossed from the Pacific to the Atlantic or vice versa. Major Hurricane Grace in 2021 hit Mexico, fizzled out and became Tropical Storm Marty in the Pacific. Category 1 Hurricane Nana in 2020 hit Belize, dissipated and became Tropical Storm Julio in the Pacific.
“These ‘cross storms’ happen from time to time, it’s certainly not unprecedented,” said Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at the University of Miami, in his Tropical Atlantic Update blog.
Forecasters believe 91L will become a tropical storm after crossing Florida
AccuWeather forecasters are optimistic about 91L’s development, calling for it to become a tropical storm after crossing Florida and entering the Atlantic Ocean before continuing northeast. Jeff Masters, a meteorologist who writes for Yale Climate Connections and co-founder of Weather Underground, agrees the odds of turning into a tropical storm increase after the system crosses Florida, he said in his column on Wednesday. .
Above-average water temperatures and weakening wind shear in the path of the system could contribute to its strengthening.
The development could also be aided by the globe-trotting Madden-Julian Oscillation – an area storm that circles the Earth and is currently causing a stir in the western Atlantic.
Hadid said while lightning shouldn’t be a threat with the impending rains, tornadoes could occur in the soggy tumult.
“People should make sure their weather alerts are turned on,” Hadid said. “Obviously there will be gusty to gusty conditions, including possible gusts of tropical storm force.”