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Pre-Season Tropical Development Possible This Week; Likely Stays Offshore

May 3, 2015
National Hurricane Center gives a disturbance near The Bahamas a low chance of developing mid-week (as of Sunday evening)

National Hurricane Center gives a disturbance near The Bahamas a low chance of developing mid-week (as of Sunday evening)

The official start to the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season is still 27 days away, but don't tell that to the atmosphere this week. A disturbance is expected to form near The Bahamas by Tuesday on the tail end of this past weekend's cold front. The National Hurricane Center is giving it a "low chance" of developing into a subtropical cyclone by Wednesday or Thursday as it drifts north into the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream. The track and strength of this system is still very much uncertain, but most forecast data suggests this entity, possibly Subtropical Storm Ana, could wonder a bit aimlessly off the Atlantic Coast while steering currents are somewhat neutral. It's even possible the system could drift northwest toward the coastline of northeast Florida or southeast Georgia by the end of the week.


Futuretrack of disturbance forming near the Florida Peninsula


The Bottom Line:

  • This "disturbance" will likely stay just offshore from the State of Florida.
  • Rain chances will be highest in South Florida and along the east coast of the state Tuesday through Thursday.
  • Most areas of inland North Florida will stay dry, especially if the system stays offshore.
  • Breezy conditions will be possible across the entire state and especially along the east coast all week.


May Storms Climatology

May cyclones since 1950 (courtesy: NOAA)

May cyclones since 1950 (courtesy: NOAA)

It's actually not that uncommon for a tropical cyclone to develop in May. Since 1950, there have been 20 named systems in the month of May, and roughly half of them have made landfall in the U.S.  Many of you may remember Tropical Storm Beryl, the "B" storm, that deluged the First Coast and parts of North Florida during the Memorial Day Weekend of 2012. Due to cooler sea surface temperatures and a lack of deep moisture this time of year, May cyclones are usually subtropical in nature. A subtropical storm has similar features to a tropical system, but rather than having thunderstorms close to the center of circulation, subtropical storms can have showers and gusty winds farther away from the center. A subtropical storm, with similar strength to a tropical depression, must have winds of 39 mph or greater at the surface.


Sources include nearest National Weather Service office, National Hurricane Center, and the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (@FloridaStorms).
Sources include nearby emergency management agencies, FEMA, and your local NPR affiliate. 
Sources include the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Highway Patrol and other nearby traffic information.

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