TAMPA — The Florida Gulf Coast may be spared Tropical Storm Gamma as it passes the Yucatan Peninsula on Monday. But forecasters warn that another system has already set a course for the Gulf of Mexico.
By Sunday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center was tracking three new storm systems in the tropical Atlantic that formed while Tropical Storm Gamma made landfall near the Mayan ruins of Tulum in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.
One of those storms is a tropical wave that forecasters warned was likely to strengthen into a tropical depression by Wednesday morning as it moves through the Caribbean and towards the southern Gulf.
“Keep in mind, there is a lot of uncertainty in the track and evolution of this wave," senior hurricane specialist Dan Brown wrote in a National Hurricane Center forecast Sunday afternoon. “It is still too soon to pinpoint how this tropical wave will evolve and any potential impacts to the local area.”
Gamma, the 24th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, grew to near-hurricane strength Saturday with winds up to 60 mph extending as far as 115 miles from its center.
The slow-moving storm likely won’t make landfall in the United States but forecasters attributed Tampa’s soggy Sunday to the surge of tropical moisture in Gamma’s wake.
By about 5 p.m. Sunday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami placed the storm about 130 miles east-northeast of Progreso, Mexico, and about 150 miles north-northwest of Cozumel, Mexico. Gamma pummeled Mexico with heavy rains and storm-force winds as it crept through at about 2 mph.
Forecasters said the storm stalled Sunday evening just north of the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and was expected to weaken overnight. The storm is expected to turn and drift west-southwestward through early Wednesday.
Spectrum Bay News 9′s Sunday forecast showed the Tampa Bay region blanketed by cloud cover and scattered showers, with highs in the mid-70s to mid-80s.
The rain was expected to intensify Sunday evening before clearing out early Monday. But the sunny skies were then expected to give way to rain later in the day as tropical moisture streams into the region, driving temperatures into the upper 80s and low 90s.
Humid, rainy weather is likely to stick around the Tampa Bay area all week, forecasters said.
The reason: Another storm system brewing in Gamma’s wake over the central Caribbean. On Sunday evening, the storm was about 90 miles off the coast of Jamaica and moving west-northwest toward the southern Gulf of Mexico.
The storm, traveling at 10 mph, had an 80 percent chance of developing into a cyclone in the next 48 hours, forecasters said Sunday. Showers and thunderstorms signaled organization, the center said, and a tropical depression was expected to form within the next day or two.
If so, the storm would be named Delta.
Meantime, forecasters at the Hurricane Center are tracking two more tropical storm systems in the Atlantic, a sign that 2020′s record-breaking hurricane season is far from over.
One of the tropical waves is located in the Lesser Antilles, about 1,000 miles east-southeast of Bermuda. The Hurricane Center gave it a 10 percent chance of development. The other wave is located over the central tropical Atlantic but analysts said further development is not anticipated. They estimated it has a 0 percent chance of development over the next five days.
This year’s Atlantic hurricane season has already exceeded forecasters' expectations and shattered records for earliest named storms.
The Hurricane Center ran through names beginning with letters of the alphabet Sept. 18, when three storms got names on one day. That pushed the naming convention to its next phase — letters of the Greek alphabet — until the season officially ends Nov. 30.
Gamma is the 24th named Atlantic storm this year, and if more follow this year could surpass 2005′s record 27 named storms in a single season. That season saw 31 systems overall including unnamed tropical depressions.
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2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
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