A storm system packing heavy thunderstorms near the Yucatán Peninsula could drench South Florida later this week.
While forecasters don’t expect the storm to strengthen to a hurricane, it may grow into a tropical storm in the next 48 hours in the Bay of Campeche before rolling across the Gulf of Mexico to affect South Florida or Cuba. The National Hurricane Center plans to send a Hurricane Hunter plane to investigate Tuesday, said Senior Hurricane Specialist Stacy Stewart.
“It’s typically the case with these [fall storms] that they tend to be prolific rainfall makers,” Stewart said.
The Atlantic hurricane season, which begins in June and officially ends Nov. 30, historically peaks in late summer, with the most severe storms occurring between August and September. In 2005, a week before Halloween, Hurricane Wilma formed off Jamaica and grew to a fierce Category 5 storm that rolled across the Yucatán Peninsula before heading toward Florida as a smaller but still costly hurricane. In Florida alone, Wilma caused nearly $17 billion in damage.
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In 2012, Hurricane Sandy sideswiped Florida on its way to the Northeast, where it landed in New Jersey on Oct. 29 to become the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history.
Upper atmospheric winds that have kept most storms from intensifying throughout the 2014 season are expected to keep a lid on this latest system, Stewart said. But the upper winds won’t keep the storm from pulling moisture from warm Gulf waters and packing it with rain. Forecasters will get a better bead on the storm’s path tomorrow, when they are able to collect data from another system off the west coast of the U.S. expected to steer it.
For now, Stewart said rain, coastal flooding and rip currents appear to be the major threat.
“So for those people pouring concrete, now would probably not be a good time to start,” he said.