Miami-Dade County

Storm brewing off Florida coast, moving slowly across tip of Bahamas

A slow-moving storm crossing the Bahamas has piqued the interest of hurricane forecasters closely watching its progress.

On Wednesday, the storm was moving west about 5 mph to 10 mph near the island chain’s northwestern tip. Because the storm is close to the surface, forecasters worry it could strengthen as it moves across very warm Atlantic waters, bringing heavy rain to Florida.

Forecasters expect conditions to keep the system from growing significantly, but may send a Hurricane Hunter plane to investigate Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.

“Often times we get circulation in the middle and upper [atmosphere] and they don’t have a prayer of developing down on the surface,” said Senior Hurricane Specialist Stacy Stewart. “So when we see circulation at or near the surface, that starts to get our attention.”

Unlike storms that develop early in the season when sea temperatures are cooler, late season storms over warmer water pose a bigger threat, he said.

“We’re at the peak of the hurricane season, so this is what people should expect,” he said.

Hurricane forecasters have predicted a slower than average season, with seven to 12 storms, three to six strengthening into hurricanes and up to two major storms. The season, which runs through November, got off to a quick start in July, with Arthur making landfall in North Carolina. In recent weeks, the season hit a lull. But historically the back half of the season has produced stronger storms.

“Slow doesn’t necessarily mean low, because right now we’re a little ahead of schedule. We’ve already had three hurricanes,” Stewart said. “Unfortunately, there’s always October around the corner, too.”