UPDATE: A weather system that is expected to near Florida’s east coast this weekend as Tropical Storm Humberto has slowed to a crawl near the northwestern Bahamas and could become a hurricane early next week.
Just weeks after Hurricane Dorian ravaged the northern Bahamas, the same parts of the island nation are under tropical storm warnings as a potential tropical depression brews in the Atlantic and forecasters issued a tropical storm watch for the coastal parts of Central Florida.
Potential tropical cyclone No. 9 has slowed down to a crawl and is moving northwest at 1 mph, as of the National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. advisory Friday, with maximum sustained winds at about 30 mph. The storm was traveling only slightly faster — near 6 mph — only a few hours earlier Friday.
“The system is barely moving, but is expected to resume a slow motion toward the northwest and north-northwest later today,” according to the National Hurricane Center.
The disturbance is 190 miles east-southeast of Great Abaco Island— the hardest hit spot in the Bahamas — and 280 miles east-southeast of Freeport in Grand Bahama island, as of Friday morning. Forecasters expect it will develop into a tropical depression or tropical storm later Friday. If the system gets stronger, it could become Tropical Storm Humberto.
Forecasters also warned the disturbance could affect the coastal parts of Central Florida. A tropical storm watch has been issued from Jupiter Inlet to the Flagler-Volusia county line.
Forecasters said the possible storm is predicted to move across the central and northwestern Bahamas on Friday and along or near the east coast of Florida Saturday and Saturday night.
The Bahamian government issued tropical storm warnings for the Abacos, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence.
It won’t be another Dorian. There are no predictions for storm surge. Both the Bahamas and Florida could see up to 4 inches of rain. But in the northernmost parts of the Bahamas, where recovery is just beginning, any rain or gusty winds could be traumatic for residents.
“[I’m] very much concerned myself and everyone else because we don’t know what to do and where to turn,” said Alice Smith, a Freeport resident and a mother of six. Smith has been helping her neighbors find gas, food and water since Dorian struck.
Iram Lewis, who represents Central Grand Bahama in Parliament, said there are absolutely concerns over the weather.
“We had a lot of water damage during Dorian. A lot of roofs were damaged and we don’t have sufficient tarpaulins or roofing materials. That is a major concern,” he said.
In Abaco on Wednesday, Bahamian police officers were moving boxes of aid from under flimsy tarps to inside a tent on the airport runway. Lewis said while tarps have been distributed, more are needed.
“People are still reeling from the shock. They are traumatized,” he said.
The National Weather Service said Thursday that Florida could see a couple of inches of rain and some breezy winds from the potential system.
After a Dania Beach press conference announcing a Bahama relief program funded by Bass Pro Shops, Gov. Ron. DeSantis told reporters that even though Florida got lucky with Hurricane Dorian’s eventual path northeast, “people should be mindful” of other tropical storms brewing.
“As we saw last year with Hurricane Michael, these things are sometimes quick-developing. Because Dorian was such a slow-moving storm, people waited,” he said. “Just understand that this stuff can happen quickly so just keep looking out for what’s going on.”
The governor added that residents should prepare now, and restock quick-to-go items like water and gasoline. Hurricane season is far from over, he warned.
“People should understand that we are just now at the peak of hurricane season, so it’s not like we’re on the other end of this,” he said. “ If you weren’t prepared for Dorian, just be prepared now. We’re going to have the rest of September and October where this can be an issue.”