Panama City and Panhandle in cone for potential Tropical Storm Isaias
PANAMA CITY — Panama City has entered the cone of uncertainty for a potential tropical storm headed toward Florida, the National Weather Service reported on Wednesday.
Wright Dobbs, meteorologist for the NWS in Tallahassee, said the city and much of the northern Gulf Coast are in the cone, which represents where the center of the storm could go over the next five days. The storm is a possible threat for an area still with scars left by Hurricane Michael in 2018.
Florida remains in the forecast path of what could soon become Tropical Storm Isaias. Heavy rain and strong winds could impact the state by the end of the week.
Dobbs wanted to note, however, that there’s still much uncertainty regarding the storm, given that’s not yet fully organized.
“The cone could shift ... we’re five days out, so there is still plenty of time for it to change,” Dobbs said. “But this still might be a good time to look at your hurricane kit.”
The system is forecast to undergo several changes in strength as it makes its way through the Caribbean. It's expected to slow down and strengthen later today.
Location: 150 miles south-southeast of St. Croix, 240 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico
– Maximum sustained winds: 45 mph
– Movement: west-northwest at 23 mph
– Next advisory: 2 p.m.
The system hasn't been given the name of a tropical storm because it doesn't yet have a closed center of circulation. With the designation as a potential tropical storm, though, forecasters can issue watches, warnings and full advisories ahead of a possible landfall.
The system is moving toward the west-northwest near 23 mph. This general motion, with some slight reduction in forward speed, is expected over the next few days.
On the forecast track, the system will move near or over Puerto Rico tonight, near or over Hispaniola on Thursday, and near or over the southeastern Bahamas on Friday.
Maximum sustained winds remain near 45 mph, with higher gusts. Some increase in strength is forecast today, with weakening likely on Thursday due to land interaction, and some restrengthening possible late week.
Environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for additional development, and a tropical storm is forecast to form later today.
For the first time this hurricane season Florida is in the projected path of an expected tropical storm.
Residents could see heavy rain and strong winds from the system by the end of the week and into next week, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management. It's still too early to determine specific impacts.
Gov. Ron DeSantis Wednesday morning said residents could feel the impacts from the storm into early next week. He encouraged everyone to prepare now by having at least seven days of disaster supplies.
With that caveat, the official NHC forecast Tuesday had nearly all of Florida in the forecast track cone, with the center coming ashore near Boca Raton on Saturday as a tropical storm with winds between 50 and 60 mph.
AccuWeather Chief Broadcast Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said that whether Florida experiences major impacts depends on if the storm moves over Hispaniola, where he said it could fall apart.
If it stays north of the island and maintains a circulation over water, however, "There could be some development or certainly moisture approaching Florida, or even [elsewhere on] the southeast coast of the United States," he said.
Warnings and watches issued for Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine
A tropical storm warning is in effect for:
– Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra
– U.S. Virgin Islands
– British Virgin Islands
– Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Anguilla
– Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin, and St. Barthelemy
– Saba and St. Eustatius
– St. Maarten
Dominican Republic from Cabo Caucedo eastward to Cabo Engano and then westward along the northern coast to the Dominican Republic/Haiti border
North coast of Haiti from Le Mole St Nicholas eastward to the northern border with the Dominican Republic
A tropical storm watch is in effect for:
– Dominican Republic from the southern Haiti border eastward to Cabo Caucedo
– Turks and Caicos Islands
– Southeastern Bahamas
Wind: Tropical storm conditions are moving across portions of the Leeward Islands and will spread across the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico this afternoon through Thursday morning. These conditions are forecast to reach portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti within the warning area early Thursday. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the watch areas on Thursday.
Rainfall: The potential tropical cyclone is expected to produce the following rain accumulations:
Across the northern Leeward Islands, British and U.S. Virgin Islands: 3 to 6 inches.
Across Puerto Rico: 3 to 6 inches, with isolated maximum totals of 10 inches.
Across the Dominican Republic, northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos: 3 to 6 inches, with isolated maximum totals of 8 inches.
Across the Inagua Islands: 4 to 8 inches, with isolated totals of 12 inches.
These rainfall amounts could lead to life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides, as well as potential riverine flooding.