Potential major hurricane could target Florida in next week

A tropical wave located in the southeast Caribbean on Thursday has a high chance of becoming a hurricane in the coming days, according to the National Weather Service Miami.

In the next week, several long-term weather forecast models show the system turning north, passing over Cuba, and heading toward the Gulf of Mexico, and possibly Florida.

“It looks like it’s going to end up being a major hurricane,” said Will Redman, a spokesperson for the National Weather Service Miami.

A major hurricane is classified as Category 3 or above.

Redman said the current path shows the storm’s center anywhere between the west coast of Florida and New Orleans, while the area facing the brunt of the hurricane’s force would likely be the Florida Panhandle.

If a hurricane does develop, it would probably form Monday or Tuesday of next week, Redman said. The next named storm will be Hermine.

First, the tropical wave likely will become a tropical depression over the next few days, moving west-north westward over the eastern Caribbean Sea in the next day or so and then reaching the central Caribbean Sea this weekend, the National Hurricane Center’s 2 pm advisory said. The system has an 80% chance of forming in the next 48 hours, up from 70% earlier Thursday, and a 90% chance of forming in the next five days.

“It’s a good time to check any supplies and review your plans through the weekend,” the National Weather Service Miami wrote in its weekly weather briefing.

Maria Torres, a spokesperson for the National Hurricane Center, said it was still too early to say whether it will develop into a hurricane or target Florida, but they will know more by Friday or Saturday.

“For us here in South Florida, we just have to keep monitoring the situation closely,” Torres said. “The important thing is to make sure people start having their preparations ready.”

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Meanwhile, Hurricane Fiona is holding steady as a Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds as of the 2 pm Thursday advisory. Several parts of Canada are under a hurricane watch, including Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Bermuda remained under a hurricane warning Thursday. Fiona is the first major hurricane of the 2022 season, meaning Category 3 and above.

Forecasters are also monitoring two other systems in the Atlantic.

“The one to watch is definitely the system moving into the southeastern Caribbean,” said Eric Blake, a forecaster for the National Hurricane Center.

A tropical wave off Africa has been given a 60% chance of developing in the next five days, possibly becoming a tropical depression by this weekend, the National Hurricane Center said. And, a broad area of ​​low pressure in the Atlantic has a 30% chance of developing in the next five days.

Tropical Storm Gaston also maintained its strength in the open Atlantic Ocean as of the 2 pm Thursday advisory, though the storm’s current path does not show it reaching land. The storm is expected to move over the Azores overnight, 1,000 miles off the coast of Portugal.

Forecasters expect Gaston to weaken throughout the next few days.

Hurricane season ends Nov. 30.

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