New tropical system may threaten Florida; Hurricane Fiona heading north

Things are getting busier in the Atlantic, with another system that's heading toward the Gulf of Mexico. The National Weather Service is watching a tropical wave east of the southern Windward Islands that is likely to become a tropical depression within the next two or three days as it heads toward the central Caribbean Sea later this week, and another off the coast of Africa.

Tropical Storm Gaston formed over the central Atlantic hours after developing into a tropical depression, about 990 miles west of the Azores. It is expected to strengthen over the next day or two.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Fiona strengthened into a Category 4 storm this morning after it left the Turks and Caicos Islands and headed toward Bermuda, leaving devastation in its wake. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic were slammed with up to 30 inches of rain which triggered massive widespread flooding, mudslides, loss of power and drinking water, and destruction. Hurricane conditions are possible and tropical storm conditions are expected on Bermuda by late Thursday.

Hurricane Fiona has devastated Puerto Rico. Here's how you can help.

At least four people have died through the Caribbean, thousands in Puerto Rico have been displaced and about 3/4 of the island was still without power as of Wednesday morning, according to FEMA. More rain is forecast through the week in parts of Puerto Rico. In the Dominican Republic over 12,000 people were displaced, more than a million were without running water, more than 7000,000 homes and businesses were without power, 3,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, and four bridges collapsed, the national Emergency Operations Center said.

The next named storm in the Atlantic would be Hermine.

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Here's the latest update from the NHC as of 8 p.m. Sept. 21:

Hurricane Fiona

  • Location: 605 miles southwest of Bermuda

  • Maximum wind speed: 130 mph

  • Direction: North at 9 mph

  • Next advisory: 11 p.m. ET

At 8 p.m. EDT, the center of Hurricane Fiona was located by a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft near latitude 25.9 North, longitude 71.4 West. Fiona is moving toward the north near 9 mph. This general motion is expected to continue through this evening. A turn toward the north-northeast with an increase in forward speed is expected by Thursday.

On the forecast track, the center of Fiona will approach Bermuda late tomorrow, and approach Atlantic Canada late Friday. Maximum sustained winds are near 130 mph with higher gusts.

Fiona is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some strengthening is forecast through tonight, with some fluctuations in intensity possible on Thursday. Fiona is forecast to be a hurricane-force cyclone through Saturday.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles.

Data from the NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that the minimum central pressure is 934 mb (27.58 inches).

A hurricane watch is in effect for: 

  • Bermuda

A tropical storm warning is in effect for: 

  • Bermuda

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case within the next 24 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

Spaghetti models for Hurricane Fiona

See the latest models on where Hurricane Fiona could go.

Tropical Storm Gaston

  • Location: 705 miles west of the Azores

  • Maximum wind speed: 65 mph

  • Direction: Northeast at 15 mph

  • Next advisory:  11 p.m. ET

At 9 p.m. GMT, the center of Tropical Storm Gaston was located near latitude 39.0 North, longitude 40.0 West.

Gaston is moving toward the northeast near 14 mph. A turn to the the east is expected on Thursday, and Gaston is expected to stall near the western Azores late this week.

Maximum sustained winds remain near 65 mph with higher gusts. Gradual weakening is expected over the next few days.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 60 mile from the center. The estimated minimum central pressure is 1000 mb (29.53 inches).

There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.

What else is out there and where are they?

Tropical wave 1: Showers and thunderstorms associated with a tropical wave located over the far southeastern Caribbean Sea have changed little in organization since this morning. The disturbance is forecast to move west-northwestward across the eastern Caribbean Sea during the next day or two, and be over the central Caribbean Sea this weekend.

Regardless of development, locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds are likely to affect the Windward Islands tonight, and northern Venezuela, northeastern Colombia, and the ABC island chain during the next couple of days.

An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is currently surveying the system, and data from this mission will be assimilated into Wednesday night's forecast models.

Tropical wave 2: Showers and thunderstorms located near the west coast of Africa are associated with a tropical wave that is forecast to move over the far eastern Atlantic waters on Thursday.

Tropical wave 3: A broad area of low pressure located several hundred miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands continues to produce disorganized showers and thunderstorms.

How likely are they to strengthen?

Tropical wave 1: Environmental conditions are forecast to become more conducive for development, and a tropical depression is likely to form within the next couple of days.

  • Formation chance through 48 hours: high, 70 percent.

  • Formation chance through 5 days: high, 90 percent.

Tropical wave 2: Environmental conditions are forecast to be conducive for some development, and a tropical depression could form by this weekend while the system moves slowly northward, between west Africa and the Cabo Verde Islands.

  • Formation chance through 48 hours: medium, 50 percent.

  • Formation chance through 5 days: medium, 60 percent.

Tropical wave 3: Despite a dry environment, slow development of this system is possible over the next several days as it moves slowly northwestward or northward over the tropical Atlantic.

  • Formation chance through 48 hours: low, 20 percent.

  • Formation chance through 5 days: low, 30 percent.

Who is likely to be impacted?

Tropical waves: It's too early at this time to determine if there will be any impact to the U.S. from the tropical waves.

Forecasters urge all residents to continue monitoring the tropics and to always be prepared during what's expected to be an active hurricane season.

Colorado State University's 2-week forecast for Sept. 15-28

Colorado State University's hurricane forecast Sept. 15-28 gives the highest odds for above-normal activity — 50% — with lower odds for normal — 40% — and below-normal  — 10%.

When is the Atlantic hurricane season?

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

When is the peak of hurricane season?

Hurricane season's ultimate peak is Sept. 10 but the season goes through Nov. 30. Credit: NOAA
Hurricane season's ultimate peak is Sept. 10 but the season goes through Nov. 30. Credit: NOAA

Although the season has gotten off to a quiet start, the peak of the season is Sept. 10, with the most activity happening between mid-August and mid-October, according to the Hurricane Center.

Weather watches and warnings issued for your area

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Tropical forecast next five days

See the National Hurricane Center's five-day graphical tropical weather outlook below.

Excessive rainfall forecast

What's out there?

Systems currently being monitored by the National Hurricane Center.

A look at the systems the National Weather Service is monitoring in the Atlantic as of 2 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2022.
A look at the systems the National Weather Service is monitoring in the Atlantic as of 2 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2022.

What's next?

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This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: Hurricane Fiona now Category 4; new tropical system heading to Gulf