Tropical storm watch issued in Florida as Tropical Depression 19 forms off East Coast

By Alex Harris, Michelle Marchante and Howard Cohen, Miami Herald on

Published in Weather News

MIAMI - Tropical Depression 19 formed Friday afternoon just off the coast of Florida, and it's on track to dump rain on the state over the weekend before reemerging in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.

The National Hurricane Center said the depression could strengthen into Tropical Storm Sally as soon as Friday evening, so a tropical storm watch was issued from South of Jupiter Inlet to north of Ocean Reef Friday.

The depression was the only system pointed at Florida as of Friday's 5 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, but there are six systems kicking around in the Atlantic Basin. That includes two tropical storms, with one of them predicted to become a hurricane over the weekend.

Forecasters said the depression was about 80 miles east of Miami Friday evening with 35 mph maximum winds. The latest track forecasts a landfall with near Category 1 wind strength near the Mississippi and Louisiana border on Tuesday afternoon.

The National Weather Service says the "soggy and unsettled weather pattern" may bring scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms through the weekend. There's a 70% to 80% chance of showers and thunderstorms Friday through Sunday.

"Questions or concerns about the area of low pressure to our east? That's OK, it's hurricane season after all!" the weather service announced cheerfully on Twitter about the local system.

"Plentiful rain and storms are expected over the region this weekend," the service said, with localized flooding likely and lightning and waterspouts a concern in South Florida and the upper Keys.

Rain chances for much of Friday, including the Keys, are pegged at 50%. But that zooms to 80% Saturday before dipping to 60% Sunday and settling into a 30% to 50% range into Tuesday.

CBS4 meteorologist Lissette Gonzalez said "the juicy, unstable atmosphere" will keep Saturday soggy "and linger Sunday and it's not until Monday when we will see rain chances decrease."

Friday morning began with sun and spotty showers over parts of South Florida, like Weston, Kendall and the upper Keys, Gonzalez said, adding that we should see highs of 90 degrees before the skies open later in the day.

The weather service said the heat index will feel about 103 degrees Friday and that rip currents are expected later in the weekend, especially along Palm Beach County beaches.

Once the system sails over South Florida and leaves its lingering showers, temperatures should feel a bit more comfortable, with highs in the mid-80s and dips as low as 79 degrees Friday night and around 80 degrees over the weekend.

Once in the Gulf, tropical depression 19 (or, potentially, Tropical Storm Sally) could join another low-pressure system that was inching its way west and south. Forecasters said that the second system had a 20% chance of forming in the next two days and 30% in the next five days.


On the other side of the Atlantic, forecasters are tracking two more tropical waves. One had a very high chance of forming in the next five days - 90%.

The tropical wave was producing a large area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms a few hundred miles southeast of the Cabo Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa. It was forecast to become a tropical depression within the next few days as it moves west across the Atlantic, according to the hurricane center.

The other tropical wave was forecast to emerge off the west coast of Africa this weekend and might turn into a tropical depression early next week as it moves westward. Forecasters said it had a 10% chance of development in the next 48 hours and a 40% chance in the next five days.

The next storm names on the list are Sally and Teddy.

Tropical Storm Paulette was on track for a direct hit on Bermuda as a Category 1 hurricane early Monday. As of the 5 p.m. update, the storm was about 855 miles southeast of Bermuda and set to strengthen into a hurricane as soon as Saturday afternoon.

Paulette's maximum sustained winds were near 65 mph with higher gusts and its tropical-storm-force winds were extending up to 205 miles from the center.

"While the exact details of Paulette's track and intensity near the island are not yet known, the risk of strong winds, storm surge and heavy rainfall on Bermuda continues to increase," forecasters wrote.

Swells generated by Paulette will likely cause "life-threatening surf and rip current conditions" across portions of the Leeward Islands and portions of the Greater Antilles, Bahamas, Bermuda, and the southeastern United States into the weekend.

After it crosses over Bermuda, the hurricane center predicted Paulette will strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane.

As for Tropical Storm Rene, it was on track for a loop-de-loop in the mid-Atlantic and was no longer forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane. As of the 5 p.m. update, Rene's maximum sustained winds slowed to near 40 mph with higher gusts.

Rene was forecast to continue moving toward the west-northwest near 13 mph Friday, make a move toward the northwest Saturday and then begin "a north-northwestward and northward motion" at a slower pace Sunday.

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