Tropical Depression No. 9: Potential hurricane threat in Gulf of Mexico

The system has caught the attention of meteorologists as both U.S. and European weather forecast models show it is developing into a hurricane and heading into the Gulf of Mexico early next week.

Nine had sustained winds of 35 mph about 615 miles east-southeast of Jamaica and was moving west-northwest at 13 mph.

“Only slow intensification is expected over the next day or so, followed by more significant intensification over the weekend and early next week,” the hurricane center said.

In the short term, the 9th is expected to bring heavy rains to Aruba, Bonaire, CuraƧao, northern Venezuela and northern Colombia, which could lead to flash floods and mudslides on the islands.

The system is then expected to intensify and intensify into a tropical storm as it moves toward Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Tropical storm watches and warnings are likely to be issued for these locations for the next 24 hours.

Predicted total rainfall:

  • Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao: Add 1 to 2 inches
  • Northern Venezuela: 2 to 5 inches
  • Northern Colombia: 3 to 6 inches
  • Jamaica: 4 to 8 inches, local up to 12 inches
  • Cayman Islands: 4 to 8 inches
  • Southern Haiti and Southern Dominican Republic: 2 to 4 inches, local maximum of 6 inches

After passing through the Caribbean this weekend, the system is expected to track near or over western Cuba as a hurricane and enter the Gulf of Mexico early next week.

“Early model guidance was very consistent, but larger cross-orbital propagation began to form within 48 hours,” the Hurricane Center said. “Considerable uncertainty remains in orbital predictions over the day 4-5 time frame. “

Both major weather forecast models for the U.S. and Europe currently show the system entering the Gulf of Mexico early next week; however, the U.S. shows a more westward trajectory, while Europe shows a more easterly trajectory.

On Friday morning, European models showed the storm over the Florida Keys on Tuesday, affecting much of southern Florida. U.S. models showed the storm affected much of the coast of central and western Florida on Wednesday.

The official forecast track from the Hurricane Center distinguishes between forecast models, showing the storm approaching the Florida peninsula late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning as a severe Category 2 hurricane.

The hurricane's center track Friday morning showed the system entering the Gulf of Mexico and affecting Florida early next week.
Hurricane Center spokeswoman Maria Torres told CNN that wherever the storm ultimately tracks, conditions in the Gulf of Mexico are favorable for the system to strengthen, and it will do so very quickly.

Expected to be an above-average hurricane season, it’s a slow start. Only one storm made landfall on U.S. soil, and no hurricanes made landfall or threatened the adjoining United States.

Now, a week past the peak of the hurricane season, the tropics appear to have woken up, and forecasters fear people will let their guard down.

“After a slow start, the Atlantic hurricane season is rapidly increasing,” Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University, tweeted.

“People tend to lower their guard and think, oh yeah, we’re out of the woods,” Torres said. “But really, the season goes on. We’re still in September; we’re still in October. Anything that forms in the Atlantic or the Caribbean is something we need to monitor closely.”

The Atlantic hurricane season ends on November 30.

In any case, if you live in the Caribbean, Florida and other Gulf Coast states, keep an eye out for updated forecasts this weekend into early next week.

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