A large tropical wave in the Atlantic Ocean now has a new name — Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine — and could arrive in Florida as a tropical storm as early as Sunday, forecasters say.
The system of thunderstorms was located several hundred miles east of the Lesser Antilles Tuesday morning and battling dry air to its north that was hindering development, but conditions are expected to more favorable for development in the next couple of days, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. advisory.
“Therefore, the system is likely to become a tropical storm before it reaches the Leeward Islands and advisories are being initiated in order to issue Tropical Storm Warnings for a portion of the Leeward Islands, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico,” the advisory says.
The forecast cone for the system includes the entire Florida peninsula and forecasters said the storm could bring rain and wind to parts of Florida by the end of the week, but the Hurricane Center advisory stressed that “greater than average uncertainty” exists about the system’s possible path and intensity because it’s still in the formative stages.
“A subtropical ridge that extends westward from the central Atlantic is expected to be the dominant steering mechanism over the next several days, and the flow around this ridge should steer the low pressure area generally west-northwestward,” the advisory says. “However, the details in the track forecast could change depending on exactly where within elongated circulation the center forms.”
A U.S. Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter plane is scheduled to investigate the system this afternoon.
Computer forecast models show the system gradually turning north as it moves across the Atlantic. Several models show the system turning before reaching Florida, while others show the system approaching the state by early next week.
“It’s definitely something we’re going to be tracking all week and into the weekend,” said Spectrum Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez. “What we’ll be looking for is if it will be south of us near Cuba or if it will turn east of Florida.”
If the system forms into a tropical storm it will be named Isaias, which is pronounced “ees-ah-EE-ahs,” according to the Hurricane Center.
It would be earliest in the season that a storm starting with the letter “I” has formed, according to Colorado State meteorologist Philip Klotzbach. The record is Aug. 7, 2005, when Tropical Storm Irene formed.
• • •
2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane
PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job
NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter