The National Hurricane Center is monitoring an area of low pressure in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico where conditions are only marginally favorable for tropical development. However, this system is expected to merge with a frontal boundary in the Gulf by Wednesday morning. The combination of these two features will cause a large wave of heavy rain and gusty winds to move across Florida tomorrow into Thursday.
The rain and wind will begin to increase across the Panhandle and parts of the Peninsula on Wednesday morning, then rounds of heavy showers and storms will continue into early Thursday. Most of the area is forecasted to receive 1-4” of rain on the average with some locations picking up over 5”. Local flooding will be the main concern but isolated tornadoes and damaging winds over 60 MPH are possible in the strongest storms. The Storm Prediction Center is forecasting marginal severe risks across parts of the state the next few days.
As the area of low pressure strengthens over the Gulf tonight and rides along a front into Florida, the winds will also increase significantly. A Gale Warning is posted across the North Central Gulf of Mexico for wind gusts possibly over 40 mph and seas up to 10 feet. As the system approaches, the Panhandle may experience gusty winds over 35 MPH with parts of the Peninsula receiving gusts over 25 MPH. The strong winds will also cause rough surf and increased risks for rip currents all along the Florida Gulf Coast.
Although conditions are unfavorable for significant development, the low pressure system does have a low chance to organize into a tropical depression or low-end tropical storm. Regardless of development, please plan for heavy rain, strong storms, and increased winds Wednesday into Thursday. Since large parts of Florida are experiencing drought conditions due to below average rainfall this summer, this will be a welcomed soaking for many.