February Tropics, Say What?

February 06, 2012; 2:10 PM
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The area of disturbed weather, pictured over the Straits of Florida, has a less impressive look compared to Sunday on this infrared satellite image taken early this morning.

The calendar says it's early February, but that is not stopping the tropics from trying to come alive near South Florida.

The center of the area of concern is a cluster of showers and thunderstorms near the Florida Straits.

This broad area of low pressure has not only put the AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center on alert but also prompted the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla., to state, "this area is being closely monitored for possible further development."

This morning, the satellite appearance of the area of disturbed weather is less impressive, though some slight development is still possible.

Surface winds were very weak with the system thus far.

The tropical season in the Atlantic Basin officially spans June to November, but there have been a few occurrences of tropical systems outside of the season.

Some of those key ingredients needed for the development of at least a subtropical depression (a system with partial tropical characteristics) are currently trying to come together.

Water temperatures in the region are near 80 degrees, the threshold for tropical development.

Wind shear (disruptive winds high in the atmosphere) presently is not strong enough to inhibit development totally. However, the system is drifting northeastward into a less favorable environment for development with greater wind shear and cooler water temperatures.

Whether or not the system acquires the name "Alberto," the AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center feels it will continue to produce locally heavy rain and isolated gusty thunderstorms in the Keys and portions of the Florida Peninsula, the Bahamas and part of Cuba into Tuesday.

Torrential rain causing flooding in low-lying and poor-drainage areas would be the main concern, even if partial tropical development fails to take place. The system is bringing much-needed rain to the region as well.

Evident by the radar from Key West, Fla., downpours will continue to be pushed into the southern half of the Florida Peninsula well ahead of the actual low's center.

The formation of a tropical storm in February is rare but has occurred at least once before in history. The Groundhog Day Tropical Storm from 1952 developed in the northwestern Caribbean before tracking across South Florida.


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