A tropical depression or storm is now likely to form in the Western Caribbean over the next 24 hours and race toward South Florida. Hurricane Hunters are flying into the system this afternoon, and the National Hurricane Center gives the disturbance a “high chance” of developing. If the disturbance becomes a tropical storm, it would be called “Philippe.”

Models

Regardless of development, heavy rain and gusty winds are likely to spread across areas near and south of a line extending from Fort Myers to Melbourne Saturday and Saturday night. This will be followed by another powerful cold front that will sweep across the entire peninsula Sunday.

WHY INVEST 93 WON'T BE A SIGNIFICANT TROPICAL THREAT

As of Friday afternoon, a broad area of low pressure was producing a large area of showers and thunderstorms in the Western Caribbean Sea between Nicaragua and Jamaica. While satellite data suggests the system is becoming better organized, the window of opportunity for significant development will likely close quickly by Saturday. Water temperatures are warm enough, atmospheric moisture is plentiful, but strong upper-level winds will make it challenging for tropical cyclone formation once the low moves north of Cuba. This is thanks to an unseasonably strong cold front quickly approaching from the northwest, the second to pass through Florida in a week.

A Soggy Saturday Nonetheless

Labeled on forecast models as Invest 93, the low pressure system will continue to move north toward the Yucatan Channel Friday Night, then curve to the northeast toward the Straits of Florida (the waters between Cuba and Key West) on Saturday.  Heavy rain, localized flooding and gusty winds will be the primary effects from the disturbance as it quickly passes through by early Sunday.

Periods of heavy rain will begin in the Keys by early Saturday morning. The downpours will then move up in the Miami metro area by mid-morning, spreading further north into the rest of South Florida by early afternoon. It’s questionable how far north the heavier rain from Invest 93 will move before the front pushes all the tropical moisture out into the Atlantic. The front itself may trigger a brief shower or two elsewhere across the state Saturday night, but it will effectively shut off all precipitation by midday Sunday.

Winds may gust as high as 30 mph in some of the heavier rain squalls over inland areas Saturday.  A sustained wind of 20 to 25 mph is also possible over area lakes and waterways, with gusts up to gale force possible just offshore of the Atlantic Coast. Seas are likely to rise to between 3 and 5 feet, with minor coastal flooding possible in the typical flood prone areas.  

Mariners and swimmers are encouraged to use caution or avoid the water altogether this weekend. Even when the rain moves out, strong northwest winds behind the front will replace the winds with the tropical system and be just as strong.

Meteorologist Jeff Huffman

Meteorologist Jeff Huffman is no stranger to just about every type of weather. Growing up in Missouri, he developed a passion for understanding thunderstorms, tornadoes, and winter storms. Several personal experiences at a young age put him dangerously close to these incredible forces of nature. Upon graduating from the University of Missouri, he continued tracking the extreme weather for 8 years as the Morning Meteorologist for the ABC and FOX22 affiliates in Mid-Missouri. In 2011, he couldn't resist the challenge to head south and take on tracking tropical storms. He accepted a position with the University of Florida's Multimedia Properties as the Chief Meteorologist. He first developed a 24-hour weather, news, and sports channel whereby students can gain real-world experience on their journey to becoming broadcast meteorologists. In 2013, Jeff worked with stations all over the state to build the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, a collaborative effort by all public media in the state to keep their audiences informed of hazardous tropical weather. In his free time, Jeff enjoys playing tennis, working out, exploring nature, and occasionally sleeping.