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Tropical Wave Near Bahamas is No Match for Approaching Front

July 22, 2019

Hurricanes and cold fronts can both produce hazardous weather in Florida. The good news is they usually can’t coexist.

A formidable tropical wave will be approaching Florida this week, while at the same time an unusually strong mid-summer front will be sliding into the Southeast. The front is forecast to win this battle, sparing Florida and the United States a significant tropical threat.

Invest 94 Unlikely to Develop

The tropical wave, referred to as “Invest 94” by meteorologists, was producing a disorganized area of showers east of the Bahamas Sunday afternoon and moving west at 15 mph. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said it was “unlikely to develop” over the next five days, according to their 8 pm tropical outlook.

Water temperatures may be warm enough in the western Atlantic Ocean for tropical storm formation, but atmospheric conditions are questionable. Strong upper-level winds, the same winds that are steering in a cold front, are forecast to create an environment unfavorable for tropical development over the region. However, the presence of the front and the added moisture from Invest 94 will almost certainly lead to a wet week across the state.

The Front Wins, then Stalls

The idea that a cold front will move through Florida and cool it off this time of year is usually a farce. That’s also the case with this one. It will be strong enough, however, to break the heat wave that scorched the Midwest and Northeast this weekend, and powerful enough to produce numerous showers and thunderstorms ahead of it.

Starting Tuesday, the thunderstorms will be a little stronger and longer lasting than the typical sea breeze activity across the northern half of Florida. The downpours could also arrive much earlier in the day, especially in locations near the Emerald Coast, Florida’s Big Bend, and the Nature Coast. Multiple rounds of heavy rain might also move over some of the same locations in a short amount of time, leading to a risk of localized flooding in these areas.

The front will then likely put on the brakes, slowing to a crawl and eventually stalling across the northern half of Florida by Wednesday or Thursday. Tropical moisture from the nearby tropical wave, combined with a steady stream of moisture moving in from the Gulf of Mexico along the front, will keep the air over central and northern Florida nearly saturated for several days. Showers and thunderstorms are expected to be widespread each and every afternoon along and north of the I-4 corridor through Friday. The activity will generally develop near the Gulf Coast in the early part of the day, transitioning inland and moving toward the First and Space Coasts by early evening.

Further south, most Floridians may not even notice a significant change to the weather pattern this week. Clouds and showers may be a little more prevalent (than normal) in the morning hours, but the typical inland afternoon sea breeze thunderstorms will generally be the rule. One exception to this generalization might be near Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, where the moisture and energy from Invest 94 might move close enough to produce some heavier rain bands near the coast or just offshore Tuesday and Wednesday.

The tropical wave and stalled front are forecast to dissipate or move east of Florida by Thursday, with a normal mid-summer weather pattern resuming by the end of the week.

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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