A tropical disturbance is growing over the Caribbean and is expected to make landfall in Florida this weekend, The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported. Right now referred to as “Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine,” meteorologists anticipate it to gain strength over the next 24 hours and then officially become a tropical storm.
The system is currently developing a few hundred miles to the east of the Lesser Antilles islands and has its sights set on the Northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico before meteorologists believe it will make its way over to Florida. The threat of flash flooding and mudslides will likely be present in these areas.
As a result, tropical storm warnings have been issued across much of the Caribbean region.
The NHC says conditions in the near future are conducive for the disturbance to strengthen, and gave it an 80 percent chance of reaching tropical storm status within the next two days.
The system is “large and disorganized,” according to Denis Phillips of ABC Action News in Tampa on his Facebook page.
“Unlike Gonzalo, it would take days to get better organized. So rapid increase or decrease in wind speed is less likely.”
The threat to Florida still remains very much a real one as it is on track to reach the Sunshine State’s Atlantic coast Sunday morning but could arrive as early as Friday evening.
“Interests there should monitor its progress and updates to the forecast over the next few days,” the NHC report read.
South Florida is listed as having about a 30 percent chance of experiencing tropical storm force winds, according to the NHC. This means sustained wind speeds of greater than 39 MPH, but less than 74, which would then cross into the threshold of a hurricane.
The current system, which will be named Isaias should it develop into a tropical storm as expected, is on track to make landfall somewhere around Florida’s Broward and Palm Beach counties. Isaias would likely be the earliest an “I” storm has ever formed in a hurricane season, which typically runs from June to November. The storm that currently holds that distinction is Irene, which became a tropical storm on August 7, 2005.
While the threat to Florida is real and continues to grow, Phillips implored his followers not to panic, reassuring them that this is not Irma, which walloped the state with monsoonal rains and destructive winds in 2017.
“We ALL know this is 2020 and a lot of us expect a worst case scenario, but the reality is, it’s just too early to worry to much about impacts from a storms 1000s of miles away.”
Still, the meteorologist urged residents to get prepared and tighten up their plans. The storm’s arrival comes at a difficult time for the state, which is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases and the social side effects that come with it.