A tropical wave making its way across the Atlantic is taking aim at the islands and drawing notice in Florida.
The system, located several hundred miles north of the Leeward Islands and moving between 15 and 20 mph, could strengthen as it encounters wetter conditions and weaker wind shear heading west, northwest, National Hurricane Center forecasters said. Tuesday afternoon a hurricane hunter plane sent to investigate the storm found it poorly formed. However, forecasters remain concerned that the storm could intensify as it nears the southeastern and central Bahamas later in the week.
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Most models show the storm taking a path near Florida, with an operational model used by the hurricane center tracking the storm across the state’s southern tip as early as Sunday. However, uncertainty over potential strength remains, which also could influence the track.
Regardless of the storm’s future status, forecasters warned that islands from the northeastern Caribbean Sea to the Bahamas could get hit with gusty winds, heavy rains, flash floods and mud slides.
In his blog for Weather Underground, meteorologist Jeff Masters said the storm is expected to pass north of Puerto Rico Wednesday and reach the Southeastern Bahamas by Thursday. Most models keep the storm north of Hispaniola, and its storm-busting mountains. But Masters warned that until the storm forms a solid core, it’s hard for models to more accurately predict a path.
If the wave becomes a storm, it will be the eighth of the year as the Atlantic hurricane season moves into peak months. The storm will be named Hermine. The hurricane hunter plane is scheduled to take another look Wednesday.
Forecasters are also keeping an eye on faraway Gaston, which grew to a tropical storm just as Fiona, which formed last week, fell apart about 690 miles south of Bermuda. Located about 765 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, Gaston will likely become a hurricane Tuesday night. So far, models show it tracking west and curving to the north away from land, although when it begins to make the turn is less certain.
Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich