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System likely to soak Florida

A disorganized mass of storms and clouds stretching from the Yucatan Peninsula to South Florida has a shot at becoming the hurricane season’s first named storm.

But even if it doesn’t, forecasters predict much of the state will get a soaking, with rain likely lingering over South Florida through the weekend.

“Regardless of what this thing does — if it does anything — it’s going to be a big rain event,’’ said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters on Tuesday afternoon slightly raised the potential for the low pressure system to become a tropical depression or storm, which would be called Andrea, to 40 percent in the next two days. But Feltgen said there is a narrow window for development as the system drifts north-northeast, generally toward the Big Bend area along Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Though the loose center of the system was just off the Yucatan in the southern Gulf of Mexico, wind shear was pushing much of the rain far to the east toward the Florida peninsula, which was under a blanket of clouds and misting rain punctuated by stronger storms. The Florida Keys and Western Cuba were getting some of the heaviest initial rains.

Robert Molleda, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Miami office, said the heaviest rain was expected Thursday and Friday with Southwest and western Central Florida likely to see the most – an average five to seven inches by the weekend.

In Southeast Florida, from two to four inches was expected through Sunday. By the weekend, the system would be pushing north of Florida into the Atlantic on its current projected track but the effects will likely linger.

“We’re still probably going to be on the back end of the moisture,’’ Molleda said. “It may not be the total soaking like we’re seeing now but the rain chances will remain fairly high.’’

The hurricane season started Saturday and ends Nov. 30.