MIAMI — The Atlantic is packed — everywhere you look, there’s a system to watch.
Forecasters on Wednesday are watching five systems, including one in the southeastern Caribbean that Florida needs to keep a close eye on.
That tropical wave is bringing thunderstorms and gusty winds to the Windward Islands, the National Hurricane Center said in its 8 p.m. Eastern time advisory. The hurricane center expects the system will turn into a tropical depression within the next couple of days. Computer models say it could strengthen into Tropical Storm Hermine.
The hurricane center is giving the disturbance a 70% chance of formation through the next 48 hours and a 90% chance of formation through the next five days.
Forecasters expect the system will move west-northwest across the eastern Caribbean during the next day or two, and then be over at the central Caribbean this weekend. However, after that, the models split on where it will go. Forecasters say it’s also too soon to know what type of hazards the system could bring to Florida, if any.
“Early model runs show it could impact the U.S. However, it depends on how fast and strong it gets,” WSVN meteorologist Vivian Gonzalez said on Twitter Wednesday morning.
The early model runs — popularly known as spaghetti models — are storm prediction paths. The closer they are to each other, confidence in their prediction grows. But these models often get it wrong.
Regardless of development, locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds are likely to affect the Windward Islands Wednesday night, and northern Venezuela, northeastern Colombia, and the ABC island chain during the next couple of days, the hurricane center noted.
A NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft was investigating the system Wednesday night.
Also on forecasters’ radar: Hurricane Fiona, a powerful Category 4 storm forecast to approach Bermuda late Thursday. Tropical Storm Gaston is swirling in the north-central Atlantic, far from land. And two other disturbances in the eastern Atlantic, one which could turn into a tropical depression in the next several days.
Here’s a forecast breakdown:
The other system with a depression chance is a tropical wave that is forecast to move off the west coast of Africa on Thursday.
Forecasters say conditions could be friendly enough for the system to turn into a tropical depression this weekend as it slowly moves north, between west Africa and the Cabo Verde Islands.
The hurricane center Wednesday night upped its formation chances from 30% to 50% for the next 48 hours and from 50% to 60% chance of formation through the next five days.
The other disturbance forecasters are watching is several hundred miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands.
The hurricane center said that while it’s in a “dry environment,” the system could see some “slow development” over the next few days while it moves northwest and then west over the Atlantic.
Forecasters are giving it a 20% chance of formation through the next 48 hours and a 30% chance of formation through the next five days.
Fiona has strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane and is about 655 miles southwest of Bermuda and 1,365 miles south-southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia, according to the hurricane center’s 8 p.m. advisory.
The forecast shows Fiona approaching Bermuda late Thursday as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph.
“Fiona is expected to affect portions of Atlantic Canada as a powerful hurricane-force cyclone late Friday and Saturday, and could produce significant impacts from high winds, storm surge, and heavy rainfall,” the hurricane center said. “Interests in these areas should closely monitor the progress of Fiona and updates to the forecast.”
Fiona’s swells also continue to affect the northern coast of Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, and the southeastern and central Bahamas.
“These swells will continue to spread westward across the southwestern Atlantic toward the northwestern Bahamas and the east coast of the United States during the next day or two. Swells from Fiona are expected to reach Bermuda by late tonight,” the hurricane center said. “The swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”
—Tropical Storm Gaston
Tropical Storm Gaston is maintaining its strength in the north central Atlantic, with maximum sustained winds near 65 mph with higher gusts, according to the hurricane center’s 8 p.m. advisory. Gaston is about 705 miles west of the Azores.
The storm, which is far from the U.S., is quickly moving northeast. An amplifying ridge associated with Fiona is expected to trap Gaston’s circulation late this week and this weekend. This could result in a clockwise loop and an eventual turn westward.
“It appears that the opportunity for strengthening has ended,” the hurricane center said. “A slow weakening trend should begin in the next day or so when Gaston moves over cooler waters and into a region of drier air and slightly stronger westerly vertical wind shear.”
Hermine is the next storm name on the list for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season.
(Miami Herald staff writer Alex Harris contributed to this report.)
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