Tropical Depression Nine formed in the Caribbean on Friday with a path that could bring it to Florida next week as a major Category 3 hurricane that could become either Hurricane Hermine or Hurricane Ian depending on how fast it intensifies compared to another new tropical depression in the Atlantic.
In its 11 a.m. update, the National Hurricane Center said TD9 was located about 515 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica and 1,015 miles southeast of Havana, Cuba with 35 mph sustained winds moving west-northwest at 14 mph.
“The latest NHC intensity forecast has been increased from the previous one and explicitly calls for rapid intensification as the cyclone crosses the northwestern Caribbean Sea,” said NHC hurricane specialist Brad Reinhart. “The system is forecast to approach the Cayman Islands and Cuba as a strengthening hurricane, with additional intensification likely once it emerges over the warm waters of the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. In fact, this forecast calls for the system to approach the Florida peninsula as a major hurricane by day 5.”
The cone of uncertainty now encompasses nearly all of Central Florida with the consensus landfall somewhere between Tampa and Naples with a path that could bring it up through the middle of the state.
“I’m a Floridian. so I’m going to speak to you candidly. Don’t panic,” said NHC acting director Jamie Rhome. “It is important that you take this threat seriously and begin to execute your hurricane plans in a calm and orderly fashion while there’s still time to get ready.”
There will be a slow intensification over the weekend projected to become a tropical storm later today and grow into hurricane strength by Monday morning with its center south of Cuba near the Cayman Islands and Jamaica.
“We are watching the path, still not quite clear-cut, but it is aiming in the general direction of Florida sometime next week,” said Spectrum News 13 meteorologist Bryan Karrick. “So I’d spend the weekend getting your hurricane preps ready to go, maybe top off the gas tank, and get your generator ready, some bottled water and canned good as well as we watch the system next week.”
Already in Central Florida, which has seen a lot of rainfall of late, the Seminole County Office of Emergency Management has started its sandbag service and are preparing shelters in the event they’re needed. Shelter locations are not announced until the shelters are fully set up and staffed.
The five-day path has it hooking north by Tuesday over Cuba and then parked off Florida’s southwest coast as a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds and gusts of 140 mph by Wednesday morning.
“The system already possessed a well-defined circulation for the last 12 to 18 hours, but it was only overnight that the ongoing convective activity was able to persist long enough near the center to be considered a tropical cyclone,” said NHC hurricane specialist Phillipe Papin.
There are no coastal watches or warnings at this time.
Tropical Depression Nine will likely drop heavy rainfall, flash flooding, and possible mudslides in Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, with heavy rains in Jamaican and the Cayman Islands coming in the next few days.
“There is still a healthy amount of uncertainty in the track forecast at the day 4-5 timeframe,” Papin said.
Elsewhere in the tropics, Hurricane Fiona has passed Bermuda and is now headed toward Canada, Tropical Storm Gaston has started to turn and is headed toward the Azores islands in the Atlantic and Tropical Depression Ten formed off the coast of Africa.
The NHC is also tracking one other system with the potential to form into the next tropical storm or depression.
TD10 formed from an area of low pressure with shower and thunderstorm activity located between the west coast of Africa and the Cabo Verde Islands hours after TD9.
It’s located about 305 miles east-northeast of the Cabo Verde Islands with 35 mph winds moving north-northwest at 12 mph.
The NHC says it could develop into a short-lived tropical storm within the next day before weakening. Whichever tropical depression reaches sustained winds of 39 mph first will take the name Tropical Storm Hermine with the following taking the name Tropical Storm Ian.
Also in the central tropical Atlantic is a broad area of low pressure several hundred miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands that continues to produce some disorganized thunderstorm activity. The NHC said some development is possible as it drifts northwestward or northward in the central Atlantic.
The NHC gives it a 20% chance to form in the next two days and 30% in the next five.
Hurricane Fiona climbed back up in intensity to a Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph sustained winds as it speeds north toward the coast of Nova Scotia.
As of 11 a.m. its center was located about 250 miles north of Bermuda, which is no longer under a hurricane warning, but still a tropical storm warning. It’s moving northeast at 35 mph projected to make landfall later today a large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds, then, move across Nova Scotia and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Saturday, and then across Labrador and over the Labrador Sea on Sunday.
The system’s wind field is expanding as it migrates moves out of the tropics with hurricane-force winds extending out 115 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extending out 345 miles.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre has issues hurricane warnings for parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Isle-de-la-Madeleine and parts of Newfoundland with tropical storm warnings for parts of New Brunswick, Quebec, Anticosti Island and other areas of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
While not a threat to Florida, the swells from Fiona are still causing surf and boating issues, with strong rip current conditions on the U.S. East Coast including Florida as well as the Bahamas.
As of 11 a.m., Tropical Storm Gaston gained some strength back to 65 mph sustained winds as its center was located about 115 miles north of Faial Island in the Central Azores moving east-southeast at 7 mph.
“A slower southeastward motion is forecast today followed by a southward, and then southwestward, motion tonight and early Saturday. On the forecast track, the center of Gaston will move near or over portions of the Azores today through early Saturday,” NHC forecasters said.
The system’s tropical-storm-force winds extend out 175 miles, but it’s expected to become post-tropical by Saturday as it moves back west in the Atlantic.
Since Sept. 1, the tropics have begun to play catchup churning out four named storms in three weeks after nearly two months of quiet.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in early August updated its season prediction that 2022 would still be above-average with 14 to 21 named storms, although not a single named storm formed in the month of August.
The 2020 hurricane season set a record with 30 named systems, while 2021′s season was the third most active with 21 named systems. An average year calls for 14 named storms.
Through Gaston, 2022 has produced seven named systems.