Update 5 p.m.: Tropical Storm Julia is maintaining 40 mph winds, but instead of weakening as expected, it now could strengthen slightly as it moves over water.
The storm, which is 35 miles east of Savannah, is moving northeast at 6 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. update.
The forecast now calls for winds to max out at 45 mph over the next two days, before weakening over the weekend. Its outer bands are bringing rainy weather to north and central Florida.
With a possible path toward South Florida, Tropical Depression 12 has not become better organized but could still strengthen into a named storm as it moves toward the west-northwest in the area west of the Cabo Verde Islands, according to the 5 p.m. advisory.
A gradual turn toward the west is expected during the next few days, moving it away from the Cabo Verde Islands tonight and Thursday.
Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph, with higher gusts. It would become a tropical storm when sustained winds reach 39 mph, possibly tonight or Thursday.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Ian is headed out to sea about 650 miles east of Bermuda. The storm, moving toward the north at 17 mph, is expected to turn toward the north-northeast with 50 mph winds and no land in its path. It’s expected to lose its tropical characteristics on Friday.
Update 2 p.m.: The National Hurricane Center has identified another new area to watch in the days ahead as a cluster of thunderstorms gathers in the Gulf of Mexico.
The center is giving the area a 10 percent chance of tropical cyclone formation as it moves west toward the Texas coast.
While the environment is not expected to be conducive for strengthening, it’s worth keeping an eye on considering the unpredictable nature of systems lately, including Tropical Storm Julia, which was still had 40 mph winds at 2 p.m.
Update 11 a.m.: A new tropical depression has formed over the Cabo Verde Islands with the National Hurricane Center expecting it to become the season’s 11th tropical storm by 8 p.m. tonight.
It would be named Karl.
According to the center’s 11 a.m. update, the system has a well-defined center circulation with winds of 35 mph. It is located about 95 miles northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands and is moving west-northwest at 14 mph.
The five-day forecast keeps the system at tropical storm strength as it tracks toward the Leeward Islands.
Tropical Storm Julia is maintaining it’s 40 mph winds and tropical storm status as it moves further up the Georgia coast at a crawling 6 mph.
The center of Julia is located about 20 miles northeast of Brunswick, GA, and tropical storm force winds now extend out 115 miles.
Julia is expected to weaken and become a remnant low in the next 48 hours, but it could dump as much as 10 inches of rain in isolated areas as it makes its slow trek north.
James Elsner, chairman of Florida State University’s geography department and a hurricane expert, said Julia’s formation over land is unusual but not unprecedented.
It could be the first time Florida has seen a tropical cyclone spin up over terra firma, but Tropical Storm Beryl formed over Louisiana in 1988, and there’s some question as to whether 1978’s Tropical Storm Amelia formed over land.
“Sometimes these waves organize fairly quickly and this was one of those cases where it was not expected to organize because of the proximity to Florida and it surprised them a bit,” Elsner said. “They didn’t have the transition to a tropical depression. It went right to a tropical storm.”
Previous story: Tropical Storm Julia formed late Tuesday night, surprising forecasters with its persistence in organizing a closed center with 40-plus mph winds on its east side.
It is the first tropical cyclone on record to be named over land in Florida, according to hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach, and the 10th named storm of the year.
The storm formed near Jacksonville with the National Hurricane Center issuing tropical storm warnings for Ponte Vedra Beach north to Altamaha Sound, GA.
As of the 8 a.m. update, Julia was about 10 miles west of Brunswick, GA, moving north at 7 mph. Maximum sustained winds were about 40 mph with higher gusts.
Hurricane Center forecasters don’t expect Julia, which is producing tropical storm force winds out up to 80 miles from its center, to maintain tropical force for long, decreasing to a depression today or early Thursday.
Top sustained wind speeds are predicted to reach only 40 mph or just above.
But because Julia is moving so slowly, just 7 mph, rainfall of 3 to 6 inches near the Georgia and South Carolina coastlines are forecast through Friday afternoon, with up to 10 inches possible in isolated areas.
North Florida is expected to get 1 to 2 inches of rain today.
On Tuesday, Melbourne broke a rain record with 3.51 inches falling at the Melbourne International Airport, easily topping a 1976 record for that day of 3.4 inches.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott sent out a request late Tuesday for Florida residents to keep an eye on what was then just Invest 93-L.
He stressed that the system had zero percent chance of development as of earlier in the morning, but could ramp up to a tropical storm by day’s end.
“As we know Florida storms can quickly develop, bringing severe weather to our state in a moment’s notice,” he said. “Floridians must prepare for the possibility of a tropical depression or storm impacting northeastern Florida.”
The system never even got tropical depression status, jumping right to a tropical storm.