DeSantis orders storm prep as Florida watches tropical system brewing in Caribbean

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Meteorologists are closely watching a disturbance near Honduras that, early models show, could affect Florida next week. It’s too soon to know where exactly the system may strike or how strong it will be, but state officials have already started preparing.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management to prepare for the “potential tropical system.”

“Residents should remain vigilant and prepare for possible impacts early next week,” he posted on X.

Also brewing in the Atlantic are Tropical Storm Franklin, which could be a hurricane this weekend, and three other tropical disturbances, including a new one in the far east Atlantic. Florida doesn’t have to worry about these systems for now, but Bermuda may feel the edges of Franklin.

Here are the forecasts from the National Hurricane Center’s 2 p.m. Friday update:

Florida officials watching new tropical system

The system to watch is an area of low pressure off the northeastern coast of Honduras. The hurricane center said it could become a tropical depression late this weekend or early next week as it drifts north over the Caribbean Sea and into the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

As of Friday afternoon, chances of it becoming a depression were at 40% in the next two days, 80% in the next seven — a slightly higher figure than earlier in the day.

The hurricane center started watching a fourth disturbance in the Atlantic on Friday afternoon.
The hurricane center started watching a fourth disturbance in the Atlantic on Friday afternoon.

Early storm models were inconsistent at first but for the last few runs have shown a tropical storm headed toward Florida’s west coast by Tuesday or Wednesday.

What the system will find by the time it gets to the Gulf is still up in the air. Waters are warmer than normal, which could fuel a potential storm, but there’s also quite a bit of unfriendly wind shear in the Gulf for the next few days.

“It’s a fine line whether the upper winds over the Gulf will enhance the system or deter it from strengthening,” Bryan Norcross, a hurricane specialist at Fox Weather, posted on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter.

The strength of a potential system weighs heavily into the path it could eventually take. Andy Hazelton, an associate scientist at the University of Miami and NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, said that a weaker system could move faster and strike lower in the state, while a slightly stronger system could be drawn more to the Panhandle region.

The next storm name is Idalia.

Tropical Storm Franklin on track to become hurricane

Tropical Storm Franklin was foundering a bit in some high wind shear, a storm shredder, on Friday, and lost a little strength Friday morning.

But forecasters said the storm was still in good shape to strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds over the weekend as it moved northeast, possibly skirting Bermuda.

As of the 11 a.m. Friday advisory, Franklin was moving east-southeast at 5 mph with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.

Tropical Storm Franklin weakened slightly Friday morning.
Tropical Storm Franklin weakened slightly Friday morning.

Three other disturbances still brewing in Atlantic

The hurricane center was still tracking the remains of former Tropical Storm Emily, which was just a trough of low pressure about 950 miles east of Bermuda.

It could regenerate into a tropical depression or storm during the next day or so, but forecasters keep lowering those chances. It had a 10% chance of forming in the next two or seven days, a drop from Friday morning.

The second disturbance, another area of low pressure midway between the Cabo Verde Islands and the northern Lesser Antilles, could become a tropical depression by early next week. It had a 20% chance of forming in the next two days and a 50% chance in the next seven.

The hurricane center started tracking a third disturbance Friday afternoon, a tropical wave expected to move off Africa’s west coast next week. They gave it no chance of forming in the next two days and a 20% chance of strengthening into a tropical depression in the next seven days.