Hurricane center eye system that could target Florida

Hurricane Fiona is still going strong, although it’s losing some power, while they’re monitoring a new storm system that could form the next tropical depression near Florida.

As of the NHC’s 5 am update, showers and thunderstorms for the tropical wave are located over the Caribbean Sea. Wind patterns are keeping the storm in check for now, but favorable conditions are expected over the next couple of days, when a tropical storm could form at that time, according to the National Weather Center.

Experts are giving it a 90 percent chance of formation through the next five days.

Hurricane Fiona is showing signs of decay in satellite imagery, with the eye becoming cloud-filled and ragged eyewall convection. Fiona continues to move north-northeastward and will likely accelerate in that direction for the next day or two, according to the National Weather Service. They believe the storm will increase its speed before it is steered towards Atlanta Canada later Friday and Friday night.

As of the NHC’s 8 pm tropical outlook, the tropical wave was located east of the southern Windward Islands while producing shower and thunderstorm activity with continued signs of organization. It’s moving west-northwestward as it drops heavy rainfall and gusty winds onto the Windward Islands and predicted to be over the central Caribbean Sea this weekend.

“It could develop into a tropical depression or tropical storm in the next couple of days,” said Jamie Rhome, acting NHC Director. “Now there’s a lot of speculation about the potential impacts from this system to the United States and that is way too premature to go that far.”

He said the NHC is dealing with its potential about four days from now.

“Beyond that we can’t say much with certainty because remember, the predictability of systems that haven’t yet formed, and this system hasn’t yet formed, is very low, and until a system forms, until a low-level circulation forms, we won’t be able to say much with certainty about impacts to the United States,” he said.

An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft surveyed the system Wednesday night.

Heavy rainfall and winds are expected on the southern Leewards and could bring more to Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, northwestern Venezuela and northeastern Colombia later this week, she said.

The system has a 70% chance to form within two days and a 90% chance in the next five.

If it grows further, it could become Tropical Storm Hermine.

Many long-term weather forecast models show the system curling towards the north in the central Caribbean by next week with some having it pass over Cuba and becoming a potential threat to the Florida peninsula.

The other two potential systems are farther east in the Atlantic including one located several hundred miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands that could see slow development over the next several days as it moves northwestward and then westward over the tropical Atlantic. The NHC gives it a 20% chance to form in the next two days and 30% in the next five.

The other is exhibiting showers and thunderstorm activity off the west coast of Africa and is projected to move slowly to the north between the African coast and the Cabo Verde Islands. In its latest update, the NHC increased its chances of forming from 30% to 50% in the next two days and 60% chance to form in the next five.

Whichever system gets to sustained winds of 39 mph or more would take the name Hermine with the next names on the hurricane list being Ian and Julia.

Of the two named systems already, Hurricane Fiona continues to intensify as it moves north away from the Turks and Caicos islands in the Atlantic, now a Category 4 hurricane.

As of 8 pm the center of the hurricane was located about 605 miles southwest of Bermuda and 1,365 miles south-southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph moving north at 9 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend out up to 45 miles with tropical-storm-force winds extending out 195 miles.

A tropical storm warning and hurricane watch is in place for Bermuda as the system is expected to grow in strength to as much as 140 mph sustained winds with 165 mph gusts. The projected path, though, takes the center to the west of the island as it speeds up heading for Canada.

The storm is expected to lose some strength, but remain a Category 4 hurricane as it makes potential landfall in Nova Scotia on Saturday before transitioning to an extratropical storm.

The system left catastrophic rains as it carved its way over the northern Leewards killing one person in the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe, then dumping as much as 30 inches of rain over Puerto Rico, where it’s been blamed for two deaths, and as much as 20 inches on the Dominican Republic where one death has been reported. The deluge has flooded much of the islands damaging roads while the winds took out power for all of Puerto Rico over the weekend.

The other named system, Tropical Storm Gaston, formed Tuesday in the northern mid-Atlantic.

As of 8 pm Wednesday, Gaston was located about 705 miles west of the Azores islands with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph moving northeast at 14 mph with tropical-storm-force winds extending out 60 miles.

While the system is projected to grow to near hurricane strength, Gaston is not expected to threaten land before transitioning to an extratropical system after the weekend.

Since Sept. 1, the tropics have begun to play catchup churning out four named storms in three weeks after nearly two months of quiet.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in early August updated its season prediction that 2022 would still be above-average with 14 to 21 named storms, although not a single named storm formed in the month of August.

The 2020 hurricane season set a record with 30 named systems, while 2021’s season was the third most active with 21 named systems. An average year calls for 14 named storms.

Through Gaston, 2022 has produced seven named systems.

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