ORLANDO, Fla. — A tropical depression could form into Tropical Storm Humberto this weekend.
Tropical Storm Humberto is expected to form off Florida’s east coast late Friday or early Saturday and then make landfall in Central Florida on Saturday afternoon, National Hurricane Center forecasters said Thursday evening.
At 8 p.m. EDT on Thursday, what is currently being called “Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine” was located about 235 miles southeast of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. If and when its sustained winds reach 39 mph, it will be named Tropical Storm Humberto.
“The system is expected to move toward the northwest near 8 mph, and this motion is forecast to continue during the next two days,” the National Hurricane Center said. “On this track, the system is anticipated to move across the northwestern Bahamas on Friday, and along or over the east coast of Central Florida on Saturday. “
The NHC added that conditions are favorable for the disturbance “to become tropical depression or a tropical storm during the next day or so.” Forecasters said its formation chance is 80% in the next 48 hours, 90% over the next five days.”
“The current forecast from NHC brings a 50 mph tropical storm ashore across Central Florida on Saturday,” said Fox 35 meteorologist Glenn Richards. “This would produce some heavy rainfall on Saturday with the heaviest rainfall and strongest winds confined to the coastal counties. The computer models are not in good agreement with this system and the forecast will change during the next day.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis said people shouldn’t assume a repeat of slow-moving Dorian, which gave Floridians days to prepare.
“As we saw last year with Hurricane Michael, these things are sometimes quick developing,” he said. “I think because Dorian was such a slow-moving storm, people kind of waited (and) waited. Just understand that this stuff can happen quicker, so just keep looking out for what’s going on.”
Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for the Northwestern Bahamas, excluding Andros Island. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.
No watches or warnings have been issued for Florida, yet the NHC noted “interests along the east coast of Florida should monitor the progress of this system.”
The system is expected to bring 2 to 4 inches through Sunday over the Bahamas and along the east coast of Florida north of West Palm Beach.
While the NHC’s forecast track has Tropical Storm Humberto making landfall south of Melbourne on Florida’s east coast at 2 p.m. Saturday, there is not a lot of confidence in the storm’s projected path.
“It is emphasized that given the model discrepancy, both the track and intensity forecasts are highly uncertain, more than usual I would say,” one NHC forecaster noted in a discussion about the system.
In its key messages about Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine, the NHC said, “The system could bring tropical-storm-force winds and rainfall to portions of the Florida east coast over the weekend. Residents should monitor the progress of the storm.”
(Staff writer Anthony Man contributed to this report.)
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