UPDATE, 11 p.m.: Philippe remains a weak tropical storm, with top sustained winds at 40 mph, as the center of the elongated storm begins to head northeast.
The National Hurricane Center estimates the storm’s center at about 25 miles northwest of Key West as it moves north-northeast at 24 mph. Forecasters say Philippe has a poorly organized structure, with at least three rotation centers in a general overall circulation center that stretches from southwest of Naples to central Cuba.
Regardless of structure, the strongest winds remain well south and east of the center, and only the area from Craig Key to Golden Beach in Florida is under a tropical storm watch. Heavy rain will still be the main threat for South Florida from Philippe, with the worst weather happening overnight as the storm passes over Florida.
Forecasters expect the storm to pick up speed as it heads northeast and potentially strengthen before it merges with a front poised to sweep through South Florida on Sunday, though that’s not expected to happen until after it passes east of Florida.
UPDATE, 8 p.m.: Tropical Storm Philippe has moved off Cuba and into the Straits of Florida, bringing heavy rains over central Cuba and across the Florida Keys and much of South Florida.
The National Hurricane Center said in its 8 p.m. advisory the storm, centered about 75 miles southwest of Key West, had top winds remained at 40 mph as it moved north at 28 mph.
The advisory brings no changes to watches or warnings, or the forecast track.
For the latest on the effects on South Florida’s weather, including a possible tornado touchdown, click here.
UPDATE, 5 p.m.: The tropical depression in the Caribbean has strengthened into Tropical Storm Philippe, the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm, centered about 120 miles south-southwest of Key West, has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and is moving north at 29 mph. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Craig Key to Golden Beach in far South Florida.
Warnings are in effect for much of Cuba and the northwestern Bahamas.
Forecasters say Philippe is likely to strengthen a bit over the next 36 hours as it races northeast, but also expect the strongest winds to remain well east and southeast of the center, away from South Florida.
However, Philippe is expected to bring potentially heavy rain, perhaps as much as 4 inches in spots, to South Florida. Winds of tropical storm force, generally in gusts, are possible within squalls as they cross into the area. The chance of an isolated, brief tornado can’t be ruled out, either.
As a cold front sweeps southeast into the area, the NHC forecasts Philippe to merge with a non-tropical low tonight and then pick up speed to the northeast ahead of the front, which is expected to bring an end to the rain and humidity during the day Sunday.
2 p.m. UPDATE: Tropical Depression 18 continues on its north northeast track with 35 mph maximum sustained winds.
The system is currently moving over Cuba at 25 mph and is expected to reach Palm Beach County late Saturday afternoon.
A flood watch remains in effect until 4 a.m., with the possibility of strong thunderstorms bringing 2 to 4 inches of rain to certain areas.
12 p.m. UPDATE: A flood watch is in effect for Palm Beach County, Broward County, and Miami-Dade County until 4 a.m. Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
Strong storms late afternoon and into tonight could bring two to four inches of rain to the county, along with strong wind gusts up to 40 mph. Higher amounts of rain around 6 inches is possible in low-lying areas.
A tropical storm watch is currently in effect for coastal Miami-Dade County.
11 a.m. UPDATE: Tropical depression 18 has formed over the northwestern Caribbean Sea moving north northeast at 22 mph.
The system has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, with wind gusts of 45 mph.
A tropical storm watch is in effect for the upper Florida Keys and portions of Southeast Florida, which means tropical storm conditions are possible within 24 hours.
The depression is expected to move across west-central Cuba this afternoon and over South Florida tonight, bringing with it strong storms that could produce heavy rainfall, flash flooding and possible tornadoes.
8 a.m. UPDATE: Potential Tropical Cyclone 18 remains disorganized as it moves northeast across Cuba and toward South Florida.
The system still does not have a well-defined center and is carrying maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. According to the National Hurricane Center, it has a 90 percent chance to develop into Tropical Storm Philippe within the next 48 hours.
South Florida could see strong storms, producing heavy rainfall and flash flooding. Up to 6 inches of rain is possible in some areas.
5 a.m. UPDATE: The National Hurricane Center’s 5 a.m. update shows the system that would be Tropical Storm Philippe still does not have a well-defined center and is down to 35 mph winds.
But so-called Potential Tropical Cyclone 18 is still moving northeast toward Florida, and on a track that has it skimming the Keys and tip of the Peninsula.
The system is forecast to become a tropical storm later today.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for the northwestern Bahamas, with a watch in effect for the Central Bahamas.
For Palm Beach County, it means a rainy, windy afternoon with showers that will continue overnight and into Sunday.
Rain chances are 80 to 100 percent with up to 4 inches of rain expected. Some higher amounts may be possible.
“Some storms could be strong this afternoon into early tonight,” National Weather Service forecasters said. “The primary threats from the strong storms will be lightning strikes, gusty winds, and heavy rainfall.”
This morning forecasters do not think a flood watch will be issued, but that could change if the storm slows down.