Update, 8 p.m.: Forecasters are cautioning Memorial Day travelers headed to Georgia and the Carolinas to keep an eye on a burgeoning low pressure system north of the Bahamas.
But Palm Beach County can expect a typical summer weather pattern this weekend with scattered afternoon showers. Friday will be mild and dry.
Late Thursday, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center increased the probability of the low pressure system becoming a tropical cyclone to 80 percent.
The system is expected to enter an area of lower wind shear and warmer waters that may encourage development into a tropical or subtropical cyclone Friday or Saturday. Also Friday, a U.S. Air Force plane will investigate the system.
Update 2:55 p.m.: The National Hurricane Center has increased the chances of a tropical cyclone forming in the Atlantic to 60 percent over the next two days, but kept the chances at 70 percent for five days out.
In a special tropical forecast issued at 2:55 p.m. the center said an area of low pressure centered between Bermuda and the Bahamas has an elongated area of circulation with shower activity increasing during the past 24 hours.
The system is expected to enter an area of lower wind shear and warmer waters that may encourage development into a tropical or subtropical cyclone on Friday or Saturday.
South Florida is expected to remain out of the storm’s path with little to no affects from its journey toward coastlines from Georgia to the Carolinas.
The next update is expected by 8 p.m. tonight.
Previous story: The National Hurricane Center has increased the chances of a tropical cyclone developing to 70 percent over the next five days.
A special tropical outlook forecast posted at 8 a.m. says an area of low pressure will enter more conducive waters for something to form up before Memorial Day.
On Friday, a U.S. Air Force plane will investigate the system.
The Mississippi-stationed weather reconnaissance squadron is scheduled to fly into the area of low pressure at 2 p.m .
A second flight is scheduled for Saturday at 7: 30 a.m.
Forecasters caution that with Memorial Day weekend approaching, everyone from Georgia through North Carolina should monitor progress of the system.
No forecasters were expecting the system to gain much strength, but it was dubbed Invest 91-L, meaning it has the potential to gain tropical characteristics. The National Hurricane Center numbers areas to “investigate” beginning with 90. The “L” represents the North Atlantic basin. Invest 90-L became Hurricane Alex in January.
Despite the questionable future of 91-L, Florida’s National Weather Service forecasting offices began taking note of the system Wednesday, distributing short forecasts on potential Memorial Day weekend weather.
For South Florida, the system may prove a boon. Depending on its location, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties could end up in the southwest quadrant of the storm where a more westerly flow would mean drier air.
“Sometimes you get dry air that wraps into these things and it may even reduce the storms a little for us,” Ippoliti said. “The north side of the system, if it comes ashore, would bring the heavier rain toward Myrtle Beach and the Outer Banks.”
Rain chances Friday are about 40 percent with a high near the mid-80s. For Saturday through Monday, rain chances range from 30 to 40 percent with typical summertime showers and thunderstorms mostly after 11 a.m.
Beachgoers will have to watch for ocean conditions with the possibility of rip currents emerging depending on the system’s path, Kottlowski said.
Mark Sudduth, a geographer and founder of Hurricanetrack.com, said the potential system is the result of a deteriorating frontal boundary “tangling up with an upper level piece of energy or trough.”
Even if something develops, Sudduth said he doesn’t think it will be more than a rain maker.
“Water temps in the region are only marginal for development though they do get warmer in the Gulf Stream closer to the coast,” Sudduth wrote in a blog Wednesday. “If this were August, I would be more concerned. It’s May so my level of concern is about a 1 out of 10.”
The system is notable for brewing up before the official June 1 start date of hurricane season, and indicates the atmosphere is readying to build more tropical systems.
Meteorologists debated Wednesday how tropical 91-L would get. Tropical systems have warmer core temperatures than their outer bands, intensify more quickly and focus thunderstorms and high winds on a smaller area.
Mid-latitude cyclones that move across the country pushing cold fronts through Florida in winter months are characterized by cold cores, which spread foul weather out over larger areas and are less intense.
“There are always exceptions to the rule when you have a system that is borderline tropical or not tropical,” Kottlowski said. “But tropical systems tend to be stronger and more concentrated.”