A tropical depression brewing near the Yucatan weakened Wednesday and appeared less likely to threaten South Florida as it heads east, forecasters said.
But the complicated weather pattern swirling over the region could still trigger heavy rain over Miami-Dade and Broward counties as a cold front, cruising south from the Northeast, collides with moisture streaming up from the Caribbean, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Gregoria.
“We’ve been seeing these locally excessive rainfalls,” he said, noting that six inches fell in the Cutler Ridge area Monday. “That’s really our concern through Friday.”
The tropical depression, which earlier Wednesday appeared to be strengthening, slowed down as it stalled in the Bay of Campeche just west of the Mexican coast. As it moves ashore onto the Yucatan Peninsula overnight Wednesday and early Thursday, forecasters with the National Hurricane Center expect it to remain a depression or weaken even more.
Conflicting models, forecasters say, have made predicting the storm’s path difficult. Once the system crosses the Yucatan, forecasters said it could continue to “meander” in the northwest Caribbean Sea.
“If it can survive over the next 48 hours as it makes its trek, it will emerge over the northwest Caribbean Sea,” said NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen. “But what it does or where it goes, it’s too early to determine.”
The slow-moving storm, with winds of about 30 mph, could dump between five and 10 inches of rain on the mostly flat state of Campeche, a large region on the west coast known for its colonial city and Mayan ruins.
Forecasters warn that the rain could trigger dangerous flooding. Last week, flooding from Tropical Storm Trudy — this tropical depression emerged from Trudy’s remnants — killed six people in southeastern Mexico.
While the 2014 hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30, has remained largely quiet in Florida, late-season storms can be tricky and deliver punishing winds and rain. In 2005, Hurricane Wilma sailed out of the Gulf of Mexico a week before Halloween and caused $17 billion in damage to the state. Hurricane Sandy triggered massive flooding in the Northeast in 2012 after it landed in New Jersey on Oct. 29.