It’s time to to keep an eye on Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine.
The tropical disturbance has a strong chance of organizing into a tropical depression or a tropical storm in the coming days, according to the National Hurricane Center. The system has a 70-percent chance of formation within two days, and that will go up to 80 percent within five days.
The Bahamas and most of the Florida peninsula are already in the early cone of uncertainty.
The hurricane center on Thursday issued a tropical storm warning for the northwestern Bahamas, an early warning for the same set of islands — including Grand Bahama and Great Abaco Island — that was ravaged by Hurricane Dorian’s Category 5-fury earlier this month.
Forecasters predict the storm will move past the Bahamas on Friday and onto Florida’s east coast by Saturday afternoon, though it is too early to tell what its strength will be by then.
Regardless, forecasters say don’t count on too much sun this weekend in the Sunshine State, thanks to the disturbance that’s still 235 miles southeast of Great Abaco with sustained winds up to 30 miles per hour.
If the storm strengthens into a tropical storm as expected, it would be named Humberto.
Wind sheer that had previously kept the system in check is weakening, allowing for more organization as the system gets fueled by the warmer-than-normal waters of the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
“Satellite images indicate that the area of disturbed weather over the central and southeastern Bahamas is gradually becoming better organized while surface pressures are falling in the area,” the Hurricane Center wrote in its 2 p.m. tropical outlook. “Conditions are becoming favorable for a tropical depression or a tropical storm to form within the next day or so as the system moves toward the northwest through the northwestern Bahamas and toward the Florida Peninsula at 5 to 10 mph.”
The disturbance was hovering above the southern Bahamas throughout Thursday, but its wind and rain spread out for hundreds of miles. Disturbed weather from the system reached Cuba and most of the Bahamas — making relief efforts from Hurricane Dorian’s massive damage messier — and just whispering against Florida shores.
“It’s very disorganized and large,” National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Noah said. “When the surface low develops, we’ll see where it goes. Some of the better computer simulations are having it forming on the southern side.”
Forecasters are waiting to see where a surface low forms to determine a more exact track. Model projections showing development on the north side have it riding up the east coast of Florida, while formation on the southern side would likely mean a ride over the Florida Straits and into the Gulf of Mexico.
If the disturbance’s winds stay under 39 mph as the cyclone forms it will become a tropical depression. It would become Tropical Storm Humberto, the eighth named storm of the 2019 hurricane season, if winds make it to 39 mph or faster. As of Thursday afternoon, sustained winds were about 30 mph, with ship traffic in the Atlantic reporting tropical storm-force wind gusts in some of its stronger squalls.
Much of Florida lies within the early cone of uncertainty, meaning the system could end up anywhere over the state. And, regardless of development, Florida is in for a breezy and rainy weekend starting Friday afternoon, Noah said. Allow extra time for travel and try to make some indoor plans, he added.
Much of Florida has already surpassed average rainfall totals for the entire year, with soil and standing water at capacity. Rivers are near there, too. Heavy rain, particularly the kind of brief, but intense and sporadic rainfall associated with tropical moisture, could bring flooding to many areas.
Meanwhile, the Hurricane Center is watching another disturbance, this one well out in the Atlantic, that has a 40-percent chance of formation over the next five days.
2019 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
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