Watching area of possible development heading into peak of hurricane season

The peak of hurricane season is fast approaching – officially September 10th – and right on cue, things are very active in the tropics. After Idalia slammed into the Big Bend of Florida last week as a major hurricane, we’ve seen Jose and Katia form in the Atlantic. Meanwhile, Gert remains a weakening tropical storm. Thankfully, none of those systems will pose a threat to land.

However, more easterly waves coming off the coast of Africa will need to be monitored as conditions appear favorable for development across much of the Atlantic. While the area furthest east will likely remain a fish storm and won’t pose a threat, Invest 95L is moving into an area with warm water, weak wind shear and is poised to organize.

Right now, Invest 95L is located several hundred miles southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. The National Hurricane Center is giving it a 60% chance of development over the next 2 days and 90% chance over the next 7 days as of Sunday evening.

A depression is likely to form by midweek in the central Atlantic and if it becomes a tropical storm, it would be named Lee. While most models do show a strengthening storm in the medium to long range, it is still too early to accurately determine where Invest 95L will ultimately go. We will continue to watch it closely and encourage you to keep checking back in for updates.

Idalia strengthens to a hurricane. Expected to rapidly intensify before landfall along Florida Big Bend

Idalia continues to become better organized and as of Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center says it has strengthened to a hurricane. Satellite imagery is showing a mostly developed eyewall.

The storm, which did not move much over the last couple of days, is now accelerating northward at 14 mph and will continue to speed up on approach as it’s picked up by a diving trough. Idalia is still expected to rapidly intensify as it goes over very warm waters and into an area with less wind shear. A landfall is forecast as a category 3 hurricane along Florida’s Big Bend Wednesday morning.

There has been a slight westward shift in the track this morning, which keeps Tampa Bay and most of West Central Florida out of the cone and that includes the worst part of Idalia. However, with such a large storm, the impacts will be felt far from the center especially given we will be on the messier, east side of the storm. 

Hurricane Warnings remain in effect for most of the region, from the middle of Longboat Key northward to Indian Pass, including Tampa Bay. A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for Englewood northward to Indian Pass, including Tampa Bay. Storm surge will be the most serious threat with Idalia along the coast where 4-7 feet of water above normal tide can impact Tampa Bay. This number could be higher closer to where Idalia makes landfall – as high as 6-9 feet from Chassahowitzka, FL to Anclote River, FL and 8-12 feet from Aucilla River, FL to Chassahowitzka, FL, especially during times of high tide. The storm surge threat is the reason for any evacuation orders. Remember, water is the deadliest aspect of tropical systems.

In addition to storm surge, winds up to tropical storm forces are likely along the coast with a possibility of hurricane gusts. Winds will be less further inland. Strong winds could knock down trees, leading to power outages. 

In general, rainfall totals could range from 4-8” with higher amounts along the coast. Outer bands from Idalia could also lead to brief spin up tornadoes. The Storm Prediction has highlighted the Bay area in a SLIGHT RISK (Level 2 out of 5) for the possibility of severe storms. The worst weather will be late Tuesday into early Wednesday with gradually improving weather Wednesday afternoon. 

We will continue to track this storm on air and online. Be safe and stay tuned for the latest.