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Tropical Depression 19 forms, could lash Tampa Bay with rain this weekend

The system could become Tropical Storm Sally as it passes by the bay area. Watch out for heavy rain and possible tornadoes and flooded rivers.

The Atlantic storm season ended Tampa Bay’s weekend very quickly on Friday.

A tropical depression formed off of South Florida that could strengthen into a tropical storm and lash the bay area heavy rain and winds through Monday.

Tropical Depression 19 was located about 80 miles east-southeast of Miami and was moving west-northwest at nearly 8 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. Friday advisory. It was generating maximum sustained winds of 35 mph.

It was forecast to move west over the southern tip of Florida Saturday and reach those warm Gulf of Mexico waters on Sunday, when it could strengthen into Tropical Storm Sally. That’s why a tropical storm watch is in effect for southeastern Florida.

But even though the system is projected to start moving northwest away from Tampa Bay when it reaches the Gulf and grows, the bay area would still be on the eastern side of the storm. That means the region would be exposed to heavy rain throughout the weekend.

“The main threat will be heavy rainfall Saturday night into Monday,” said Spectrum Bay News 9 Chief Meteorologist Mike Clay.

The hurricane center warned that the tropical system could dump enough rain to produce flash flooding and worsen minor flooding along Tampa Bay’s rivers, which are already swollen from the daily rains. Watch out for tornadoes as well.

If it becomes Tropical Storm Sally, it will do so away from Florida. But the current track for Tropical Depression 19 is bad news for the Louisiana and Texas regions that were affected by Hurricane Laura, which made landfall last month.

But Clay believes that as it approaches the Gulf Coast around Mobile, Ala., that “a lot of wind shear will get to that one” and inhibit its growth.

If Sally forms, it would be the earliest 18th storm to form in the Atlantic in recorded history. The record for the earliest "S" storm is Hurricane Stan, which formed on Oct. 2, 2005 and hit Central America. That’s yet one more parallel between this busy storm season and the historically active 2005 season.

Tropical Depression 19 formed Friday off South Florida and could strengthen into a Tropical Storm this weekend that would soak the Tampa Bay region. [ National Hurricane Center ]

But 19 is just one of six tropical systems in the Atlantic — and none of the others threaten Florida yet.

Tropical Storm Paulette is expected to become Hurricane Paulette this weekend and pass near Bermuda on Sunday night or Monday. It was located about 855 miles southeast of Bermuda, according to the 5 p.m. advisory, moving northwest at nearly 13 mph. It’s maximum sustained winds were nearly 65 mph. Then it is expected to dissipate in the mid-Atlantic next week.

Tropical Storm Rene remains no threat to land and doesn’t appear to be strengthening. It was located at about 1,875 miles west-northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands, moving at 14 mph with maximum winds of 40 mph.

Disturbance 2 is hanging out in the north-central Gulf off the coast of Louisiana and has a 30 percent chance of growing stronger over the next five days as it approaches the Mexican coast.

Disturbance 3 is a tropical wave located hundreds of miles south and southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands off Africa. It is moving west at 15 to 20 mph and is forecast to become a tropical depression in the coming days.

Disturbance 4 is right off the western coast of Africa. It has a 40 percent chance of strengthening into a tropical depression in the next five days in the far eastern Atlantic.

The next named storms of this season are Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred, and then that’s it. Meteorologists will start naming storms after Greek letters such as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc. The last time storm names ran out was during the 2005 hurricane season, when there were 27 named storms.

The Atlantic Ocean was busy Thursday with two tropical storms, three disturbances and a new wave forming off the coast of Africa, according to the National Hurricane Center. [ National Hurricane Center ]

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2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at

PREPARE FOR COVID-19 AND THE STORM: The CDC’s tips for this pandemic-hurricane season

PREPARE YOUR STUFF: Get your documents and your data ready for a storm

BUILD YOUR KIT: The stuff you’ll need to stay safe — and comfortable — for the storm

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