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Tropical Storm Laura Forms in the Eastern Caribbean

The tropical depression east of the Leeward Islands intensified into the season's twelfth tropical storm Friday morning, acquiring the name Laura. Tropical Storm Laura could impact portions of South Florida Monday, before entering the Gulf of Mexico and potentially intensifying further as it turns north Tuesday.

NO CURRENT STORMS IN ATLANTIC BASIN

Dry Saharan air from the African continent and wind shear prevented the depression from strengthening Thursday. In fact, Hurricane Hunters flying through the depression Thursday evening suggested the depression may have become a tropical wave, but the National Hurricane Center said Friday morning the data was too ambiguous and the system remains a tropical depression for now.

The forecast track for Tropical Storm Laura takes the center of the depression near or just north of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friday night and Saturday morning, and then near or north of Hispaniola and Cuba Saturday night into Sunday. If the circulation center stays intact and over the water, it may have an opportunity to strengthen into a tropical storm. However, a track over Hispaniola or Cuba would likely cause the system to hold steady in strength or weaken.

The exact track of the storm will determine the magnitude of impacts to Florida early next week. The forecast cone shifted southward and now calls for the center of the system to pass anywhere from Cuba to South Florida on Monday. A northwestward track would the center between the western Florida Peninsula into the eastern Gulf or Panhandle Monday night into Tuesday.

There is a high degree of uncertainty in the strength of the cyclone as it passes near or over Florida. In their early Friday morning discussion, the National Hurricane Center said possibilities range from a tropical wave to a major hurricane based on the various computer model simulations. If rain and tropical storm force winds were to impact the state, they would most likely arrive over South Florida Monday morning, the western half of the peninsula Monday afternoon and night, and the Panhandle on Tuesday.Forecasters urge residents to monitor the storm occasionally this weekend and to have hurricane kits and plans ready because of the large uncertainties in the storm's path and intensity.

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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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