Tropical Depression Nine formed from the system in the southeast Caribbean on Friday and forecast models show the system turning north, passing over Cuba and heading toward the Gulf of Mexico and possibly Florida as Hurricane Hermine.
According to the latest forecast models, South Florida is in the cone of the potential Category 3 storm.
“It looks like it’s going to end up being a major hurricane,” said Will Redman, a spokesperson for the National Weather Service Miami.
Redman said the current path shows the storm’s center anywhere between the west coast of Florida and New Orleans, while the area facing the brunt of the hurricane’s force would likely be the Florida Panhandle.
If a hurricane does develop, it would probably form Monday or Tuesday of next week, Redman said.
In its 5 a.m. update, the National Hurricane Center said the storm is moving west-northwest at 13 mph. Experts expect it will move more westward over the next day or so before turning back west-northwest and then northwest over the weekend.
Maximum sustained wind speeds are close to 35 mph with a higher gusts. There will be a slow intensification over the weekend projected to become Tropical Storm Hermine later today and grow into hurricane strength by Monday morning with its center south of Cuba near the Cayman Islands and Jamaica.
The five-day path has it hooking north by Tuesday over Cuba and then parked off Florida’s southwest coast as a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds and gusts of 130 mph by Wednesday morning.
Tropical Depression Nine will likely drop heavy rainfall, flash flooding, and possible mudslides in Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, with heavy rains in Jamaican and the Cayman Islands coming in the next few days.
“It’s a good time to check any supplies and review your plans through the weekend,” the National Weather Service Miami wrote in its weekly weather briefing.
“For us here in South Florida, we just have to keep monitoring situation closely,” said Maria Torres, spokesperson for the National Hurricane Center. “The important thing is to make sure people start having their preparations ready.”
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Meanwhile, Hurricane Fiona is holding steady as a Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds as of the Friday morning advisory. Several parts of Canada are under a hurricane watch, including Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Bermuda remained under a hurricane warning Thursday. Fiona is the first major hurricane of the 2022 season, meaning Category 3 and above.
Forecasters are also monitoring two other systems in the Atlantic.
“The one to watch is definitely the system moving into the southeastern Caribbean,” said Eric Blake, a forecaster for the National Hurricane Center.
A tropical wave off Africa has been given a 60% chance of developing in the next five days, possibly becoming a tropical depression by this weekend, the National Hurricane Center said. And, a broad area of low pressure in the Atlantic has a 30% chance of developing in the next five days.
Tropical Storm Gaston also maintained its strength in the open Atlantic Ocean as of the Friday morning advisory, though the storm’s current path does not show it reaching land. The storm is expected to move over the Azores overnight, 1,000 miles off the coast of Portugal.
Forecasters expect Gaston to weaken throughout the next few days.
Hurricane season ends Nov. 30. The next named storm would be Ian.