The 2018 hurricane season’s sixth named tropical cyclone has formed in the far eastern Atlantic Ocean, but here along the Emerald Coast, weather eyes are watching a disturbance over Hispaniola that could develop once it reaches the Gulf of Mexico next week.
Tropical Storm Florence formed Saturday morning just southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands in the Atlantic and whipped up its winds to 45 mph as of mid-day Saturday. The storm was moving west-northwest at 14 mph with a minimum central pressure of 1003 mb, or 29.62 inches.
In its 8 a.m. statement the National Hurricane Center said Florence had become much better organized during the morning, with pronounced banding features becoming evident on satellite photos.
The storm is expected to continue on its current path while slowly intensifying for the next 48 hours, then curve a little more to the northwest, keeping the storm out to sea. After that time wind shear is expected to increase which should prevent Florence from gaining hurricane strength, unless the storm’s path changes.
Meanwhile, a tropical wave interacting with an upper-level low pressure area was producing numerous showers and thunderstorms over the island of Hispaniola just east of Cuba.
The wave was moving west-northwest and was expected to bring thunderstorms to the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Bahamas this weekend, then South Florida into the Gulf by early next week.
Wind shear was preventing the system to become anything more than an area of showers, but forecasters say upper level winds should let off once the wave reaches the Gulf, giving it an opportunity to organize.
The hurricane center said shower activity associated with the disturbance had increased a little on Saturday.
Development chances are rated at 40 percent over the next five-days, which is up from 20 percent yesterday.
Residents of the Emerald Coast should keep an eye on this system as it could possibly affect the area next week.