Floridians should prepare for the possibility of at least one tropical storm this week, and forecasters say warnings could be issued for the state as early as Monday.
The culprit is an area of low pressure about 300 miles north of Puerto Rico that was producing a large area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms on Sunday. Meteorologists began calling it Invest 98L.
“This system is forecast to move generally northwestward over the southwestern Atlantic, where environmental conditions appear conducive to additional development, and a subtropical or tropical storm is likely to form in the next few days,” the statement said. The National Hurricane Center said in its 7 p.m. tropical weather update Sunday.
“The system is then forecast to turn to the west or west-southwest over the southwestern Atlantic by the middle of this week, where additional development is possible.”
The hurricane center established 80 percent chances for the system to develop in the next 48 hours and 90 percent for development in the next five days.
Various weather models forecast the system to possibly make landfall on Florida’s east coast later this week, but there is no agreement on the intensity of the storm, whether it could be a tropical/subtropical storm or even a hurricane.
Regardless of how strong the storm may be, the NHC said there is a growing risk of coastal flooding, tropical storm-force winds, heavy rain, rough surf and beach erosion along Florida’s east coast and much of Florida. off the southeastern coast of the United States this week.
“Those interested in those areas should continue to monitor the progress of this system, as tropical storm, hurricane and storm surge watches may be required for a portion of these areas by early Monday,” the hurricane center said.
State officials have been following updates from the NHC and on Sunday urged residents to pay attention to the weather system.
“Floridians should prepare for increased risk of coastal flooding, high winds, rain, rip currents and beach erosion beginning Tuesday,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tweeted.
Similarly, the Florida Division of Emergency Management tweeted that while the system’s path is still uncertain, residents on the state’s east coast should prepare at least seven days’ worth of emergency supply kits.
“It looks like conditions will deteriorate as the work week progresses,” said National Weather Service meteorologist John Pendergrast in Melbourne. “Deteriorating conditions for Central Florida will begin primarily around Tuesday and Tuesday night and then persist through Thursday.”
The two areas of Central Florida of greatest concern are residents living near the St. Johns River and other low-lying areas near rivers and beaches that will experience erosion, Pendergrast said. He said forecasters predict river levels will rise slightly or stay the same depending on the amount of rain that is currently projected to be between 3 and 4 inches.
Tuesday’s Election Day shouldn’t be affected by rain, Pendergrast said.
“It looks like the real direct effects of the system aren’t going to show up until after Tuesday,” he said.
Meanwhile, NHC forecasters said they are also monitoring another area of low pressure several hundred miles east of Bermuda, saying a tropical storm could form in the next few days. That system is not expected to affect Florida.
Last week saw the sixth and seventh hurricanes of the season form: Hurricane Lisa hit Belize on Thursday morning and Hurricane Martin, which became extratropical in the North Atlantic on Thursday afternoon.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs through November 30. All 14 systems named from the season through Martin have now met NOAA’s forecast for 2022.
NOAA forecast an above-average season with 14 to 21 named tropical storms. This follows the record 30 named systems from 2020 and 21 named storms from 2021.