Tropical storm, possible hurricane forecast for Gulf; Fiona nears Bermuda

The tropical wave (Invest 98L) in the southeastern Caribbean Sea heading toward the Gulf of Mexico hasn't changed much yet, but it's expected to strengthen into a tropical storm by the weekend and possibly a hurricane by early next week, according to AccuWeather forecasters. Most computer models show the system moving northward into the Gulf around the middle of next week where it could threaten the Florida coast.

"This is the most significant threat for the U.S. mainland we've had this hurricane season," AccuWeather chief meteorologist Jonathan Porter said.

If it becomes a named storm, it would be called Hermine.

Another wave in the east-central tropical Atlantic west-southwest of the Cabo Islands has a slight possibility of becoming something bigger, and there's another off the coast of Africa, according to the National Weather Service. And Tropical Storm Gaston is charging north in the middle of the Atlantic.

The big story remains Hurricane Fiona, which will be heading past Bermuda tonight bringing them hurricane-force winds, tropical storm conditions and storm surges, and then approaching Nova Scotia on Friday as a reduced storm still capable of hurricane-force winds. The Canadian Hurricane Centre has issued tropical storm and hurricane watches for their east coastal regions.

Fiona attacked Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean Islands this week with punishing winds and up to 25 inches of rain in some areas, causing massive flooding and the destruction of homes, businesses, roads and bridges.

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

Four people have been reported dead as a result of the storm, officials said. Thousands are without homes, more than half-a-million Puerto Rico residents don't have drinking water, and despite progress nearly half of the island remained without power.

Gusty winds are expected to continue over parts of Turks and Caicos islands Wednesday morning as the storm moves toward Bermuda. With an additional 1 to 3 inches of rain expected, flooding may continue in the area.

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Here's the latest update from the NHC as of 8 p.m. Sept. 22:

Hurricane Fiona

  • Location: 280 miles west-southwest of Bermuda

  • Maximum wind speed: 130 mph

  • Direction: North-northeast at 20 mph

  • Next advisory: 11 p.m. ET

At 800 PM AST (0000 UTC), the center of Hurricane Fiona was located by an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft near latitude 30.8 North, longitude 69.1 West.

Fiona is moving toward the north-northeast near 20 mph (31 km/h). A north-northeastward or northeastward motion with an increase in forward speed is expected through Friday, followed by a somewhat slower northward motion beginning Friday night, and this motion should continue through late Saturday.

On the forecast track, the center of Fiona will pass just to the west of Bermuda tonight, approach Nova Scotia on Friday, and move across Nova Scotia and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Saturday. Maximum sustained winds are near 130 mph (215 km/h) with higher gusts.

Fiona is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some slight weakening is expected to begin tonight or Friday, however Fiona is forecast to be a large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds when it moves over Nova Scotia Friday night and Saturday. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 275 miles (445 km).

The estimated minimum central pressure based on data from the Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is 932 mb (27.52 inches).

A hurricane warning is in effect for: 

  • Bermuda

A hurricane watch is in effect for:

  • Nova Scotia from Hubbards to Brule

  • Prince Edward Island

  • Isle-de-la-Madeleine

  • Newfoundland from Parson’s Pond to Port-Aux-Basques

A tropical storm watch is in effect for:

  • St. Andrews New Brunswick to west of Hubbards Nova Scotia

  • West of Brule Nova Scotia to Cap Madeleine Quebec

  • Anticosti Island

  • Johan Beetz Bay Quebec to north of Parson's Pond Newfoundland

  • West Bay Labrador to Hare Bay Newfoundland

  • St. Lawrence to east of Port-Aux-Basques Newfoundland

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: 220  miles northwest of Faial Island in the central Azores

  • Maximum wind speed: 65 mph

  • Direction: East-northeast at 17 mph

  • Next advisory:  11 p.m. ET

At 1200 AM GMT (0000 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Gaston was located near latitude 41.0 North, longitude 31.4 West.

Gaston is moving toward the east near 17 mph (28 km/h). A slower southeastward motion is forecast later today followed by a southward, and then southwestward, motion tonight and early Saturday.

On the forecast track, the center of Gaston will move near or over portions of the Azores tonight through early Saturday. Maximum sustained winds remain near 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher gusts. Gradual weakening is expected over the next few days.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles (185 km) from the center. A wind gust of 39 mph (63 km/h) was reported at Flores in the western Azores.

The estimated minimum central pressure is 999 mb (29.50 inches).

What else is out there and where are they?

Tropical wave 1: Showers and thunderstorms remain disorganized in association with a low pressure system located over the southeastern Caribbean Sea about 150 miles east-northeast of Curacao.

A tropical depression is expected to form during the next day or two while moving west-northwestward at 10 to 15 mph across the central Caribbean Sea.

Locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds are likely to affect northwestern Venezuela, the ABC island chain, and northeastern Colombia through Friday. Interests in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands should closely monitor the progress of this system.

Tropical wave 2: Showers and thunderstorms located near the west coast of Africa are associated with a tropical wave that has emerged over the warm waters of the far eastern Atlantic.

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: The upper-level wind environment over the low is expected to become more conducive for development, and a tropical depression is expected to form during the next day or two while moving west-northwestward at 10 to 15 mph across the central Caribbean Sea.

  • Formation chance through 48 hours: high, 90 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, 60 percent.

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

Tropical wave 3: Despite marginal environmental conditions, some slow development of this system is possible over the next several days while 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

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.

Projected tropical outlook for the next five days in the Atlantic as of 5 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022.

What's next?

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This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: Gulf of Mexico, Florida may see tropical storm, hurricane next week