Tropical depression forms, could bring flooding rain to South Florida this week

South Florida is likely to get drenched Tuesday, all thanks to a newly formed tropical depression near the Bahamas.

Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center said Monday at 5 p.m. that Tropical Depression Three, near Andros Island, had just formed. Conditions aren’t great for the storm to turn into anything more intense, said NHC forecaster Richard Pasch.

“We don’t anticipate this to be a very long-lived or very strong event,” he said.

By 5 a.m. Tuesday, the storm was off West Palm Beach, with winds of 35 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. South Florida remained dry before sunrise. But “it is still soaking the Bahamas,” said CBS4 meteorologist Lissette Gonzalez.

Pasch predicts the storm will inch a little closer to Florida’s east coast as it moves north before strong upper winds eat away at the storm’s strength and organization. He said it will likely be absorbed by a nearby low pressure area and dissipate in a couple of days as it moves north.

But even if the depression isn’t strong, it will likely bring drenching rain to South Florida beginning as soon as Monday afternoon, said National Weather Service of Miami meteorologist Heather Nepaul. Low-lying and urban areas could flood, including some streets.

Although the depression has maximum sustained winds of 35 miles per hour, it isn’t likely to bring strong winds to South Florida, she said, just gusts.

“We’re not looking at any tropical storm winds or anything like that,” Nepaul said.

Forecasters don’t believe the system could strengthen beyond a tropical depression. The next step beyond a depression is a tropical storm, which would earn the name Chantal. The only named hurricane so far this season is Hurricane Barry, which piled rain and storm surge on New Orleans this month.

Alex Harris covers climate change for the Miami Herald, including how South Florida communities are adapting to the warming world. She attended the University of Florida.