Early projections by the National Hurricane Center indicate a weather system in the eastern Caribbean that could strengthen into a tropical storm today will turn northward and spare Florida a direct hit.
But hurricane specialist John Cangialosi at the center said Floridians should nonetheless watch the system closely as early forecasts on disorganized storms are less reliable and can rapidly change.
"There are still a couple of models that have the system moving over Florida," he said Saturday. "We can't dismiss a direct impact. But it seems less likely than a day ago."
An 11 p.m. advisory said the storm would take a northwest track near or over the Turks and Caicos Islands and southeastern Bahamas on Saturday night and then pass over portions of the central Bahamas today and Monday.
Rainfall up to 12 inches was possible in Hispanola, creating the potential for life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in areas of mountainous terrain, the report said.
The center says the storm has an 80 percent chance of strengthening into Tropical Storm Cristobal in the next day or two. Though the system has tropical storm force winds of 35 mph, it lacks a well-defined center and circulation, Cangialosi said.
"Right now, the system is struggling," he said.