At 5pm Wednesday, Tropical Depression 16 was located just off the coast of Nicaragua in the western Caribbean and was moving NW at 7 mph. This system is expected to become Tropical Storm Nate within the next 24 hours.
Through the end of the work week, Nate will head north, past the Yucatan Peninsula, and into the southern Gulf by early Saturday. Other than some land interaction with Central America, there isn’t a lot working against this system in the short-term. Water temperatures are in the mid 80s and upper-level winds are favorable for further strengthening over the next 2-3 days. Nate is currently forecast to become a hurricane by Saturday afternoon and move into the Panhandle on Sunday.
There has been a pretty wide-spread between our two most reliable models, the GFS and Euro so far. The GFS currently favors a faster moving, weaker system, tracking further west into Louisiana. The Euro has been insisting on a stronger storm, tracking further east into the Florida Panhandle. The differences between the two are understandable, given the fact that this is still a fairly weak system. Over the next day or two, we can expect to see better agreement between the two as the storm develops further.
A track further west would greatly reduce impacts in the Tampa bay area, while a track further east would bring storm surge, heavy rain and the possibility of tornadoes. Stay with us over the next few days as we fine tune the forecast over the next few days.