TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – A tropical depression spinning near the Bahamas is forecast to strengthen into a tropical storm as it moves across southern Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico.
As of 5:00 PM, Tropical Depression Nineteen was 80 miles ESE of Miami with sustained wind speeds of 35 mph. Nineteen is moving to the WNW at 8 mph. Storms developing in the center of the storm prompted the National Hurricane Center to upgrade the tropical disturbance to a tropical depression.
Tropical storm watches are in effect for southeastern Florida, just in case Nineteen strengthens into a Tropical Storm this evening.
The National Hurricane Center’s forecast track for Tropical Depression 19 takes the system across south Florida and into the gulf, moving west-northwest. It is forecast to become a tropical storm in the next day and a half over the Gulf of Mexico. Wind shear is light, which will help the storm stay organized as it moves into the Gulf. Warm sea surface temperatures of at least 86ºF will provide the energy needed for the system to strengthen.
“This will bring an increase in easterly winds to northeast Florida this weekend along with the threat of very heavy rainfall, and enhanced surf conditions with life-threatening rip currents at northeast FL and southeast GA beaches,” the National Weather Service in Jacksonville wrote on the storm.
The heaviest rainfall is anticipated to spread north into Marion county on Saturday and then northwest across the Suwannee Valley on Sunday. Areas of flooding may develop as tropical downpours will occur, according to the weather service.
The system is then forecast to strengthen to near hurricane intensity by early next week as it moves across the northeastern Gulf. Dangerous impacts are possible along the coast from the Florida panhandle to southeastern Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The main hazard for this storm is heavy rainfall across the Big Bend and into South Georgia. However, now is a great time to check your hurricane preparedness kits and download the WCTV Pinpoint Weather App.
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