Florida faces tropical peril on both coasts
Florida is facing tropical peril on both sides this week as a strong wave of moisture sweeps across the tip of the state and a cyclone brews in the western Caribbean.
Palm Beach County will experience gusty winds and rain for the next several days from the wave, which should clear the area Friday but leave trailing showers in its wake.
The tropical system, which was identified as a depression by the National Hurricane Center on Wednesday and would be named Nate if it develops into a storm, is forecast to move north from Nicaragua, graze Cancun and land somewhere between Biloxi, Miss., and Clearwater.
The official hurricane center forecast calls for the depression to reach hurricane strength before landfall Sunday.
Hurricane center forecasters warned Wednesday that with nothing to stymie development and only nourishing warm water in its path, rapid intensification is possible. “The system is forecast to continue strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico and could affect portions of the northern Gulf Coast as a hurricane this weekend with direct impacts from wind, storm surge, and heavy rainfall,” forecasters wrote in their afternoon discussion. “However, it is too early to specify the timing or magnitude of these impacts.”
South Florida isn’t expected to see any effects from would-be Nate, but the tropical wave will bring heavy rainfall that could total more than 5 inches in Palm Beach County through Sunday.
The National Weather Service in Miami is warning locally higher amounts are possible as the wave moves through today and Friday.
“Even if the rain isn’t heavy all day, the chances are close to 100 percent,” said Stephen Konarik, a meteorologist with the NWS in Miami. “After that we still kind of stay moist and we’ll have pretty high rain chances through the weekend.”
The weather service put Palm Beach County at a high risk for rip currents, under high surf and coastal flood advisories and under a flood watch.
While the flood watch was initiated because the ground is already saturated from weekend rainfall, the coastal flood advisory is a cosmic event.
Today’s harvest moon is bringing the higher king tides of fall that cause coastal flooding, exacerbated by the east winds of the tropical wave. The seasonal shifts that affect king tides include changes in winds, atmospheric pressure and a slowing of the Gulf Stream current that runs the length of Florida’s east coast.
The harvest moon is the full moon closest to the September equinox, which was Sept. 22.
Konarik said tides are running as much as 2 feet above normal.
“That will peak with the full moon, but there will still be several more days with elevated levels into early next week,” he said.
The harvest moon brings the higher king tides of fall that cause coastal flooding, exacerbated by the east winds of the tropical wave. Singer Island’s condos loom in the background.