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The 1st tropical system of the Atlantic season is looming, could head for Florida

The first organized tropical system of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season could form as early as Thursday, AccuWeather forecasters said. On the eve of the official start date of June 1 of the tropical season in the basin, meteorologists said there was now a “strong” chance that a depression or tropical storm could form in the warm waters of the basin. the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to the Florida Peninsula.

Meteorologists say there is already a risk that the burgeoning tropical rainstorm, which would be named Alex once it reaches the maximum sustained wind threshold of 39 mph for a tropical storm, could cross Florida at the end of this week, then the northern Bahamas this weekend.

Areas where the rainstorm could first develop a circulation, become a tropical depression, and evolve into a tropical storm include the northwest corner of the Caribbean Sea and the southeast portion of the Gulf of Mexico. It is also possible that the development of a tropical depression or named tropical storm will be delayed until this system is located just east of Florida.

The dissipation of Agatha, which hit southern Mexico as a record-breaking hurricane on Monday, is likely to play a role in the formation of a tropical rainstorm on the Atlantic side of Central America. Another key factor is a broad area of ​​weak low pressure and groups of thunderstorms around Central America and southeastern Mexico, known as the Central American Gyre, and a decreasing amount of shear from the wind over the Caribbean.

“A very likely solution is that moisture and residual energy from Agatha will give rise to a new storm system on the Atlantic side,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Courtney Travis.

The waters are warm enough for tropical development, and temperatures are generally a few degrees above average and in the 80s F. Water temperatures surrounding western Cuba and the Florida Keys are in the mid-to 1980s. If a budding tropical rainstorm plods through the very warm waters, the storm could quickly strengthen, experts say.

“There is strong wind shear in the area early this week, but it looks like these disruptive winds will diminish as the week progresses,” said Paul Pastelok, long-range meteorologist at AccuWeather. Strong wind shear, the sudden change in direction and increase in speed of winds through different levels of the atmosphere, is one of the main obstacles to the development of tropical cyclones around the world.

“How quickly the wind shear dissipates may be a major determining factor, as the waters are very warm over much of the tropical rainstorm’s proposed track, and there is additional energy flowing around. from the topical part of the globe that could really give this system a boost. it’s getting closer to Florida,” Pastelok said. A small to medium amount of wind shear can actually help with tropical development and strengthening of a tropical system in some cases.

Whether or not the system becomes a tropical depression or tropical storm, it will approach Florida with torrential downpours and gusty thunderstorms Friday through Saturday, then hit the northern portion of the Bahamas Saturday through Saturday evening.

“In addition to showers and thunderstorms, there is a risk of urban flooding, building seas and waves,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson, adding that there is also potential for a few tornadoes. and waterspouts as the system, at least like a tropical rainstorm, crosses the Florida peninsula or passes just south of Florida.

Parts of South Florida could use a good soak due to ongoing drought or abnormally dry conditions this spring. While the center of the storm may not reach the Florida peninsula until Saturday morning, heavy rain could precede the center by about 24 hours.

How quickly the system organizes, its strength and its exact track will determine the severity of the impacts over Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas through this weekend. Experts say boaters and officials in the offshore fishing and shipping industries should closely monitor the development and trajectory of this tropical system.

In this image of southern Mexico and Central America, taken on Tuesday, May 31, 2022, there were two main areas of thunderstorms. One lot was over the northwest Caribbean Sea (right of center) and the other was over the southwest Gulf of Mexico (upper left). Agatha’s waning center was south of the storms in the southwestern Gulf. (GOES East/NOAA)

After passing through Florida and the Bahamas, the system is likely to turn northeast along the southern Atlantic coast of the United States for some time next week. The storm system’s proximity to the coast and its strength once on the Atlantic side of the southeastern United States will be key in determining the level of impacts experienced from Georgia to the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia. Forecasters say potential impacts include building rough seas and waves, beach erosion, coastal flooding and even gusty winds and rain.

Once the storm forms and begins its journey, AccuWeather forecasters will have more information about the severity of the impacts going forward.

Cross-tropical systems, such as the potential with Agatha, are rare. However, there is a fairly recent example of an ancient eastern Pacific tropical system that helped spawn a new storm on the Atlantic side of Central America.

This June 2020 satellite loop shows the evolution of Tropical Storm Cristobal in the Gulf of Mexico from former Tropical Storm Amanda in the Eastern Pacific. (AccuWeather)

During the historic 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, Tropical Storm Amanda moved inland from the eastern Pacific over Mexico and began to unravel. But remnants of energy, moisture and ancient circulation from Amanda helped spawn Tropical Storm Cristobal in early June over the Gulf of Mexico, which then made landfall along the central Gulf Coast. United States.

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There is another area of ​​the Atlantic basin where a potential tropical system could take shape.

AccuWeather meteorologists were monitoring a general area of ​​showers and thunderstorms associated with a weak low currently northeast of the Bahamas on Tuesday. There is a slim chance that this area of ​​disturbed weather will slowly organize as it drifts northeast and into the central Atlantic for the remainder of this week. In Palm Harbor, Florida, a tornado was confirmed to land in the area on Tuesday, with no significant damage reported Tuesday evening.

Waters near the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, as well as islands in the Western Caribbean and Central America, are persistent hotspots for tropical development in June.

Although tropical development in the Atlantic won’t occur until the official start of hurricane season this year for the first time since 2014, an above-average number of named systems and hurricanes are predicted by AccuWeather for the 2022 season.

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