Tropical depression in Gulf slogs south away from Florida, hurricane center says

Tribune Content Agency

Florida got a tiny scare on the first day of the Atlantic hurricane season with the formation of Tropical Depression Two in the Gulf of Mexico and a threat it might form into Tropical Storm Arlene.

The depression, though, did not gain strength overnight according to the National Hurricane Center is expected to lose steam as it heads south toward Cuba and away from the Sunshine State.

In its 11 a.m. advisory said the center of the system was located about 270 miles west of Fort Myers with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph moving south at 5 mph. The system is expected to continue moving south to south-southeastward through Friday gradually increasing its forward speed. No coastal watches or warnings have been issued.

“The system is forecast to weaken later today and tonight, and it is forecast to degenerate into a remnant low on Saturday,” the NHC stated in the advisory.

The system that was originally projected to cut across the Florida peninsula spun up with better organization since Wednesday when the NHC had given the low-pressure area only a 10% chance to form.

While the system is headed away from the state, its still keeping a lot of moisture and with it the threat of heavy rains into Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. Some parts of the state can see thunderstorms pop up and drop 2-3 inches in a short amount of time that could lead to localized flooding. Some areas might see rain up to 5-6 inches while gusts of 40-50 mph and some hail chance are still possible, the NWS in Melbourne said in a Friday morning forecast.

The depression is technically the second tracked system of 2023 after the NHC determined a storm in the northeast Atlantic in January qualified as a subtropical storm, although unnamed.

No other tropical activity is expected in the next seven days.

The National Oceania and Atmospheric Administration’s seasonal forecast released in May projects 2023 to be an average season with between 12 and 17 named storms. Of those, five to nine would grow into hurricanes, and of those one to three would reach major hurricane strength of 111 mph sustained winds or greater.

The hurricane seasons runs from June 1-Nov. 30.