A tropical wave that lingered over the state for much of the week will likely depart over the weekend but not before delivering a dreary, soggy weekend.
The system, now located near Lake Okeechobee, is expected to continue rolling to the northeast and emerge over the Atlantic near Central Florida. A flood watch will remain in effect for South Florida until 8 a.m. Saturday, with heavy rain and thunderstorms possible. Rain on the Gulf Coast is expected to be higher, with National Weather Service meteorologists warning four to six inches are possible from Naples to Fort Myers and inland.
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There’s a chance the wave could regain strength as it heads up the coast, National Hurricane Center forecasters said. Friday afternoon, they upped the odds of a cyclone to 50 percent over the next five days.
Across the Gulf, forecasters called for “catastrophic” flooding in Texas as Hurricane Harvey neared as a Cat 3 storm. Sea levels near Corpus Christi had already started rising one to two feet Friday afternoon. In their afternoon advisory, forecasters said sustained winds had increased to 120 mph, with the storm expected to dump astonishingly high amounts of rain. Projections ranged from ranged 5 inches to 25 inches up and down the coast, with up to 35 inches forecast for some locations.
Storm surge is expected to sweep across the state’s barrier islands, with up to 12 feet forecast for parts of Padre Island and eight feet on Galveston Island.
Over the next 36 to 48 hours, forecasters said the hurricane will likely stall, worsening flooding risks. In four to five days, it could begin heading east again, returning to the Gulf of Mexico, steered by a mid-level trough in the midwest. But a good deal of uncertainty over that track remains, they said.
Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich