Hurricane

An early tropical disturbance is affecting Florida, and it could develop

Non-tropical disturbance brings extreme weather to Florida

A non-tropical disturbance in the Bahamas could bring rain, thunderstorms and record heat to South Florida.
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A non-tropical disturbance in the Bahamas could bring rain, thunderstorms and record heat to South Florida.

UPDATE: The National Hurricane Center’s 10 a.m. Friday advisory on the disturbance and what it means for some big South Florida weekend events.

A tropical disturbance that is already bringing rain to South Florida is an early call to start paying attention to your supplies.

Hurricane season is one month away.

And though unusual, but not unheard of, a trough of low pressure located over the northwestern Bahamas is already producing disorganized shower and thunderstorm activity and has a 20% chance of developing over the next five days, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday morning.

Right now, the system isn’t expected to develop over the next two days into Friday — call it close to zero% — but the system is moving generally northwestward toward the Florida Peninsula.

And from there?

The center is watching and plans to issue a special tropical weather outlook at 10 a.m. Thursday — or sooner if conditions call for an alert.

But it’s only May 1.

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“It will be a little unusual to have a tropical cyclone form this early on, but it’s not unheard of,” said hurricane center meteorologist Jack Beven.

He cited May systems like Subtropical Storm Alberto, which set off tropical storm warnings north of Naples and along the tip of Florida’s Panhandle on May 25, 2018. Alberto had winds of 65 mph — 9 mph below a Category 1 hurricane — days before the start of the 2018 season.

Beven also mentioned May Tropical Storms Beryl and the earlier Alberto of 2012. Beryl, with 70 mph winds, hit Jacksonville late that May month as the strongest pre-season hurricane on record.

So, what to say about this week’s trough of low pressure?

The disturbance, Beven said, “is not well developed and it is going to move northwest toward the Florida Peninsula over the next couple of days. It’s not likely to develop in Florida but it will bring increased rain. After that, it will likely turn northeast and move out into the Atlantic somewhere offshore of the southeast coast of the United States.”

That’s where the 20% chance of development in five days comes from.

At that point, should it happen and turn into a named storm, it’s too early to accurately predict.

“Some of the models show the low pressure area forming out in that area, but it would go out to sea at that point,” Beven said.

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The National Weather Service already predicted the rain the region is seeing Wednesday and the chances for heavier downpours with possible flooding on Thursday into Friday. Now, the service has boosted the chance for rain for Thursday from 50 percent to 60 percent and winds are expected to reach about 26 mph.

But that forecast high of a possible high of 92 degrees Saturday and Sunday in South Florida is now reduced to a more tolerable 85 degrees, according to the weather service’s forecast.

The Florida Keys should also see highs of 85 on the weekend, with slightly lower chances for rain in the 40 to 50 percent range in Marathon and lower winds in the Keys, about 10 mph.

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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