Heavy rain from tropical disturbance possible this weekend

A soggy weekend may be ahead for South Florida with the collision of a simmering tropical system and a second forceful cold front.

While timing is key in this dance of opposites, as much as 3 inches of rain is possible in Palm Beach County beginning Saturday morning into Monday. Higher amounts nearing 5 inches were forecast as of Wednesday for areas of Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

The wet weather would follow the season’s first cold front that washed through Wednesday, leaving the daytime high in the  mid-70s and dropping Thursday morning’s temperature to a forecast 55 degrees in West Palm Beach.

That’s a full 15 degrees below normal for this time of year and nearing the record low of 52 degrees for Oct. 26 set in 2010.

“There’s a pretty high confidence at this point that we’re going to see a lot of rain,” said Andrew Hagen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “The heaviest rains will be further south, but I think 2 to 4 inches across Florida is possible.”

The National Hurricane Center was giving the tropical disturbance bubbling in the southwestern Caribbean just a 40 percent chance of development over five days. Dubbed Invest 93L, it would be named Philippe if it gained tropical storm strength.

David Zelinsky, a specialist at the National Hurricane Center, said the system’s interaction with Nicaragua and Honduras is inhibiting development, but as it begins a slow trek north, conditions become more favorable for some organization.

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“In another day or two, its’ going to move, and we think there may be a 48-hour window or so when it could develop a little,” Zelinsky said. “It will move north and then east as the front approaches. What is less clear is exactly what form it will be when it does that.”

It’s not unuusal for a hurricane to spin up in late October. In 2012, Sandy became a hurricane on Oct. 24, slamming into New Jersey as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds five days later. Hurricane Wilma’s Category 3 landfall near Cape Romano, Fla., occurred 12 years ago Tuesday. In 1998, Mitch reached hurricane strength on Oct. 24, building to a Category 5 storm two days later. Mitch hit near Fort Myers Nov. 5 as a tropical storm.

But forecasters said there’s no indication 93L will be a Sandy, Wilma or Mitch.

Hagen said he doubts it could even reach to a moderate or high-end tropical storm.

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“We can’t completely rule out a weak tropical storm, but wind shear is going to keep it from getting too strong,” Hagen said.

Manalapan — Erosion damages a home and a toppled sea wall caused by Hurricane Sandy at 1220 S. Ocean Blvd. in Manalapan on Tuesday. (Gary Coronado/The Palm Beach Post)

The system’s northerly path will bump it into the second cold front that is forecast to drape across the Gulf of Mexico Saturday morning before pushing through South Florida on Sunday.

The weekend cold front is from a deep undulation in the jet stream caused by former Typhoon Lan in the North Pacific. It’s the same atmospheric wave responsible for the 100-plus temperatures at Tuesday’s World Series game in southern California.

Behind the front, temperatures early next week in Palm Beach County should top out in the mid to high-70s, and fall into the 60s overnight.

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