FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A potential tropical cyclone off Florida’s east coast will soon strengthen into a tropical depression or storm as it moves north, forecasters said Thursday, leading the National Hurricane Center to begin issuing warnings and watches.
Meanwhile, a system off Africa is expected to merge with another system to its west and then become a tropical depression this weekend that could potentially head in the general direction of the eastern Caribbean.
The system off Africa is likely to become a tropical depression this weekend or early next week, according to the 2 p.m. advisory Thursday from the National Hurricane Center. Its odds of development increased to 40% in the next two days and 80% within the next seven days.
It is currently expected to curve north before reaching South Florida.
“While it shows a due-west path, there is expected to be a curve to the north,” said Donal Harrigan, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service Miami. “There’s tons of uncertainty as to how far west or east we’ll go with that curve. I’m not seeing anything that raises a large concern of something reaching South Florida. It looks like this thing is going to stay east of us.”
Forecasters began issuing advisories for Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 late Thursday morning, which is expected to form as it moves away from Florida’s east coast early Friday. The developing low has been causing heavy rainfall and possible flooding this week in South Florida, and is expected to strengthen into a tropical storm as it approaches the coast of North Carolina on Friday.
The system is not yet a tropical depression, but forecasters have decided to begin issuing advisories ahead of time because it is expected to intensify quickly.
“This possible system is going to develop fast enough that they want to put up watches and warnings,” said Robert Garcia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Miami. “So they have the option to put ‘potential tropical cyclone’ to give everyone time to prepare.”
In its latest forecast at 2 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, National Hurricane Center forecasters said the system has a 60% chance of developing in the next two days and a 60% chance within the next seven days.
As of 2 p.m., the system was located about 355 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina and 430 miles south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, moving north near 9 mph.
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