FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The first storm of hurricane season is likely to form Saturday, bringing tropical-force gusts to South Florida, the National Hurricane Center said in a Friday morning advisory.
The subtropical or tropical storm, which would be named Arthur, is expected to form around the Bahamas from a large patch of stormy weather moving through the Florida Straits.
Although Florida is likely to avoid a direct hit, the broad cluster of storm clouds is expected to give the region a day or two of rough weather. Strong gusts, scattered power outages, flooding, powerful rip currents and high waves are expected Friday, the National Weather Service said.
Gusts could reach 40 mph. A high surf warning was issued for Broward and Palm Beach counties, indicating the possibility of breaking waves of six or seven feet. A gale warning was issued for the ocean off South Florida, indicating the potential for sustained winds of at least 39 mph.
A flood advisory was issued Friday morning for central Broward County, in effect until 11:30 a.m., as the system's outskirts started to drift across the region. Nearly two inches of rain have fallen, the National Weather Service said. Areas that will experience flooding include Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Plantation, Tamarac and Lauderhill.
A flash flood warning was issued for northern Miami-Dade County, where up to four inches of rain have fallen, the National Weather Service said. Among the cities covered are Miami, Hialeah, Miami Gardens, North Miami and North Miami Beach. The warning remains in effect until 11:45 a.m.
An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter airplane is scheduled to fly into the storm Saturday if necessary.
The cloudy, stormy weather is heading northeast through the Florida Straits toward the Bahamas, where it is expected to organize and strengthen into the first named storm of the season.
"Expect wet and windy conditions through Friday, with hazardous marine conditions and the potential for heavy rain and localized flooding," the National Weather Service in Miami said, in a Thursday evening update.
Rain possibilities for South Florida range from heavy, with four to six inches of accumulation, to minimal. Blustery weather could prevail through Saturday.
A subtropical storm differs from a tropical one. It lacks the tight, well-defined center of a tropical system and tends to be bigger and looser, with its strongest winds located some distance from the center. They also tend to be weaker than tropical systems.
A subtropical depression has wind speeds of up to 38 mph, while a subtropical storm has winds speeds of at least 39 mph.
Hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30, although it's not uncommon for a storm or two to appear in the weeks before the official start date. Most forecasters predict a particularly active season, due to worldwide climate conditions and unusually warm water in the Atlantic.
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