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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Strong Tropical Wave moving toward Gulf right through South Florida if..

..if it continues on predicted track.

The vigorous tropical wave, now about 800 miles to the southeast of Miami, continues moving in our general direction.

Again, how it will affect South Florida remains to be seen, but the National Weather Service says we can expect to see some rain and wind from this thing possibly as early as Thursday night but more likely on Friday.

How much rain and wind depends on how strong it grows.

According to the 8 p.m. tropical outlook:

– The wave was in the Atlantic near the east end of the Dominican Republic, moving northwest at 10 mph;

– The chance of development over the next two days remains at 60 percent;

– The system still has not achieved a closed center of circulation, necessary to be classified as a depression or storm;

– It could produce gusty winds, heavy rains and life-threatening flash floods in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and other islands along its path.

Tropical wave given high chance of development

The vigorous tropical wave, now in the Atlantic near the Dominican Republic, continues to get better organized. As of 2 p.m. today, the National Hurricane Center gave it a 60 percent – or high – chance of developing into a depression or storm over the next two days.

At the same time, the models have come more into agreement that the system will move generally toward South Florida. Now about 900 miles from Miami, it was lumbering northwest at about 10 mph.

Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the hurricane center, said the models can't be trusted until the wave develops a closed circulation – a primary requirement before a tropical system can be deemed a depression or a storm.

In other words, the models could continue shifting and where this thing ultimately will go remains uncertain. Feltgen said a hurricane hunter aircraft will investigate the system on Wednesday.

The chance of the system spinning up into a hurricane before it reaches South Florida is low, according to Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist of Weather Underground, the online weather site.

 He said a patch of dry air between South Florida and the Caribbean could inhibit its development.

If the disturbance does aim directly for this region, we could start feeling its rains by Thursday night and potentially see rough weather on Friday.

One way or the other, the National Weather Service expects our rain chances to increase "significantly" by Friday, whether the system makes a direct hit or just brushes us.

"It looks like whatever is down there is generally headed in our direction," said meteorologist Dan Dixon. "It's just something we'll have to watch."

The wave is expected to bring heavy rains and gusty winds to the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Turks and Cacos and the southern Bahamas over the next couple of days.

Tropical wave near Puerto Rico strengthens

The tropical wave we've been watching the past few days strengthened overnight, prompting the National Hurricane Center to give it a 40 percent chance of developing into a depression or storm over the next two days.

"Environmental conditions are expected to be somewhat favorable for development during the next day or so," hurricane specialists Dan Brown and John Cangialosi said in this morning's tropical weather outlook.

As of 8 a.m. today, the disturbance was near Puerto Rico, straddling the Atlantic and the Caribbean, moving northwest at 5 to 10 mph. It was expected to bring heavy rain to that region over the next couple of days.

The models have shifted its potential path to the north, although they are in large disagreement. Some aim it into the Gulf while at least one has it remaining east of the U.S. coastline. A few point it right over South Florida.

Bottom line: It's too early to say where it might ultimately go.

Because it's to our southeast, it's something to keep an eye on. One way or the other, it likely will increase our rain chance over the weekend.

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