Tropical threat may evolve near Florida, US Gulf Coast during early September
By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
September 02, 2018, 5:26:10 AM EDT
A tropical disturbance that brought flooding downpours to parts of the Caribbean this past week may organize and strengthen into next week while crossing Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
Interests from the Bahamas and the Florida Peninsula to the upper Gulf coast should monitor the tropics in the coming days.
A tropical disturbance, known as a tropical wave, was showing some signs of life around Hispaniola and the southeastern Bahamas on Saturday.
This tropical wave brought torrential downpours over the Lesser Antilles in recent days and caused localized flooding in some communities, including in Tortola, part of the British Virgin Islands, late Thursday.
Wind shear prevented development in recent days and may prevent rapid organization this weekend.
Wind shear is the increase in wind speed with altitude and over geographical distance. Strong wind shear can prevent a tropical storm from forming or may cause a hurricane to weaken.
However, satellite images on Saturday indicated slight rotation to the clouds in the region, which may be a sign that the system could slowly develop while pulling away from Hispaniola and prior to reaching Florida waters later in the holiday weekend.
Localized torrential downpours and gusty thunderstorms are in store for areas in the path of the feature as it moves along to the west and northwest over the next several days.
The southeastern Bahamas, eastern Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos will be mostly affected by the downpours and squalls into early Sunday.
Late Sunday and through Labor Day, South Florida, central Cuba and the central and northwestern Bahamas can expect tropical downpours and locally gusty thunderstorms to be most prevalent.
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Early next week, the feature is projected to reach the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Rounds of downpours will continue to occur well ahead of the feature across a large part of the Gulf coast due to a tropical flow of moisture through the holiday weekend.
Not only may the downpours interrupt a day at the beach, they may also lead to urban and low-lying area flooding to the Interstate 10 corridor and beyond.
People venturing into the water for a last dip in the ocean during the summer season should be wary of the risk for strong and frequent rip currents.
"If wind shear were to drop off as the feature moves over the Gulf of Mexico next week, significant development and strengthening may take place," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
If the feature remains weak and poorly organized, then it is more likely to travel on a more westerly path toward Texas.
If the feature develops into a tropical storm or hurricane, then it is more likely to turn more to the north and possibly reach the upper Gulf coast somewhere from the Florida Panhandle to Louisiana.
All interests from Florida to Texas should monitor this feature, especially during next week when the risk of development may increase substantially.
Even if this system were not to strengthen, there will be other areas of concern over the Atlantic basin in the coming weeks. This includes Florence near Cabo Verde.
The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is Sept. 10.
"It is possible we could have anywhere from one to perhaps as many as four organized tropical systems across the Atlantic basin by the end of the first week of September," Kottlowski said.
Two additional robust tropical waves are forecast to move westward off the coast of Africa over the next week.
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