BREAKING: Record-shattering Michael makes landfall between Mexico Beach and Panama City

 

UPDATE:  Hurricane Michael made landfall at about 1:30 p.m. with 155 mph winds between Mexico Beach and Panama City.

UPDATE 12:55 p.m.: The eyewall of Hurricane Michael is coming ashore between St. Vincent and Panama City with 150 mph winds.

Landfall is eminent.

The most recent pressure level was recorded at 917, which is lower than Hurricane Andrew’s 922.

Colorado State University researcher Phil Klotzbach said only two U.S. hurricanes have made landfall with a lower pressure – the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 and Camille in 1969.

Update 11:30 a.m.: Hurricane Michael continues to strengthen this morning with wind speeds up to 150 mph as it approaches Panama City.

Previous story: Hurricane Michael exploded overnight into a Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds and could strengthen before making landfall this afternoon.

Michael, which was 65 miles south-southwest of Panama City as of 10 a.m., is moving north at 13 mph.

Although there were some thoughts Michael would reach minimal Cat 4 strength, no one was forecasting this kind of rapid intensification. No Category 4 or 5 hurricanes have previously hit Florida’s Panhandle. A Category 5 storm begins with winds at 157 mph.

It was at 2 a.m. this morning that Michael first became a Category 4 with 130 mph winds.

As of 6 a.m., its initial rain bands began spreading across the Panhandle. Hurricane Force-winds extend out up to 45 miles from Michael’s center. Tropical storm-force winds extend out up to 185 miles.

“Satellite images of Michael’s evolution on Tuesday night were, in a word, jaw-droppingl,” said Bob Henson, a meteorologist for Weather Underground. “A massive blister of thunderstorms erupted and wrapped around the storm’s eye, which had taken taking a surprisingly long time to solidify.”

Michael’s quick formation and forward speed left limited time for preparation compared to the five days of suspense between Florence’s birth as a hurricane and its Category 1 landfall near Wrightsville Beach on Sept. 14.

“I’m 59 years old and lived here all my life and I don’t think I’ve ever been this concerned,” said Johnny Paul, who was boarding up his Wewa Outdoors shop on Tuesday in Wewahitchka, about 17 miles north of Mexico Beach. “When you wake up and see Jim Cantore is just an hour away, you get a little nervous.”

Paul and his neighbors went to bed Tuesday thinking Michael was going to be a high-end Category 3. They woke up to a strong Category 4 with the National Weather Service in Tallahassee declaring; “This is as SERIOUS as it gets.”

STORM 2018: CHECK THE INTERACTIVE TRACKING MAP

Cantore, a Weather Channel broadcast meteorologist, was in Panama City Beach Tuesday morning. The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office issued a playful no trespassing warning for the veteran storm chaser saying it would prefer he make “non business-related visits” during winter months.

Paul said he was most worried about wind damage, but it was the flush of saltwater storm surge that emergency operations officials and National Hurricane Center forecasters spent extra time highlighting.

Depending on Michael’s location at landfall, areas as far south Cedar Key could see up to 12 feet of storm surge if it peaks during Wednesday’s high tide, with the Gulf of Mexico pushing 10 miles deep into the Apalachicola River to Hancock Bay.

EYE ON THE STORM: Get updates on the blog

“There’s a little wiggle room still on intensity at landfall but the track has been pretty straight forward in terms of forecasting,” said Chris Dolce, digital meteorologist for Weather.com, an IBM company. “It’s pretty sparsely populated in some of those areas, so that is a bit of good news.”

By tonight, Michael should be well inland and starting to make a sharp turn to the northwest as an area of low pressure picks it up, catapulting it through Georgia and the Carolinas as a tropical storm. Up to 10 inches of rain is possible in the Panhandle, but Michael’s expedited trip toward the Atlantic means a lower four to six inches in Georgia and the Carolinas.

Gov. Rick Scott, who declared a state of emergency in 35 counties and has assembled 2,500 National Guard troops to help with recovery, called Michael a “monstrous storm” that “keeps getting more dangerous.”

Leon County Emergency Operations Manager Kevin Peters said Michael is the “most extreme” storm to hit the area since 1894. State capital Tallahassee, which suffered widespread power outages after Category 1 Hurricane Hermine in 2016, is in Leon County.

“If you don’t follow warnings from officials, this storm could kill you,” Scott said.

This morning, Scott was interviewed by Cantore on The Weather Channel.

“I’m worried about the people who stayed behind, this thing came up fast,” Scott said. “It’s coming, it’s coming right now.

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Hurricane Michael strengthens, forecast to become ‘dangerous’ major hurricane

UPDATE 5 p.m.: Hurricane Michael strengthened to 80 mph this afternoon as it moves north at 9 mph toward Florida’s Panhandle.

It is forecast to be a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds near landfall on Wednesday.

A hurricane warning is now in place for the Gulf Coast of Florida from the Alabama / Florida border east to the Suwanee River. A hurricane watch has been issued from the Alabama / Florida border west to the Mississippi / Alabama border.

Since 1851, Florida has had 36 hurricanes make October landfalls, including 10 major hurricanes. That’s five times higher than runner-up Louisiana, which has experienced seven October hurricane hits, including three major hurricanes, according to National Hurricane Center records.

The most recent major October hurricane to hit Florida was 2005’s Wilma.

“This has been different from a lot of the storms we’ve seen since I’ve been governor,” said Gov. Rick Scott. “It’s fast, this is coming very fast. It could speed up. It could slow down. We don’t know. And we don’t know exactly where it’s going to hit yet.”

Previous story:

The National Hurricane Center has upgraded Michael to a hurricane.

As of the 11 a.m. advisory, Michael had 75 mph winds and is now expected to reach Category 3 strength within 48 hours.

“Michael is forecast to be a dangerous major hurricane when it reaches the  northeastern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, and life-threatening storm surge is possible along portions of the Florida Gulf Coast regardless of the storm’s exact track or intensity,” the NHC wrote in its key messages.

Florida State University is closing beginning Tuesday and will resume normal business operations on Monday.

“This one is big,” said Tessa Whitaker, who was working this morning at Harry’s Bar and Package in the small coastal town of Carabelle. “I live 4 to 5 blocks from the water, so I’m scared.”

Michael is unusual because it formed from a disturbance from the Central American monsoon, rather than a tropical wave, said Jeff Masters, Weather Underground cofounder and a meteorologist at The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

“We saw a couple of these form last year and they were just big ugly messes that had trouble getting organized,” Masters ssaid. “But Michael managed to break away and took advantage of very warm ocean temperatures.”

Previous story:

The National Weather Service is warning that minor flooding is possible in southeast Florida today as seasonal king tides coincide with Michael’s growing presence in the Gulf of Mexico.

South winds pulled through South Florida by the burgeoning tropical cyclone will also bring in moist tropical air, causing increasing rain and squally weather. There is up to a 10 percent chance that Palm Beach County could feel tropical storm-force winds tomorrow as Michael moves deeper into the Gulf.

High tides today are around 8:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. Tuesday’s high tides are about 9:30 a.m. and 9:45 p.m.

HURRICANE CENTRAL: Storm 2018 hurricane tracking, supply lists

Tropical Storm Michael is nearing hurricane strength this morning with winds at 70 mph as of the 8 a.m. advisory. It is about 120 miles east-northeast of Cozumel and moving north at 7 mph.

Hurricane watches have been issued for areas of the Florida Panhandle from the Alabama border to the Suwanee River.

A storm surge watch has been issued from Navarre to Anna Maria Island.

The system, is forecast to reach 110 mph in the two-day forecast window, which is just 1 mph shy of a Category 3, major hurricane.

This is considerably higher than what was forecast at this time yesterday, a detail noted in this morning’s discussion from the National Hurricane Center.

“An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft made several passes through the system during the past few hours, and somewhat surprisingly, found that the central pressure has fallen to about 983 mb and the maximum winds have increased to near 60 knots (69 mph),” wrote NHC hurricane specialist Robbie Berg. “This increase in intensity indicates that despite the shear, which has been affecting Michael, the system has, by definition, rapidly intensified during the past 24 hours.”

Rapid intensification is defined as an increase in wind speeds of 34 mph or more over a 24-hour period.

On Sunday, Michael’s cloud tops were as cold as -112 degrees.

“Cloud tops this cold can only occur if the updrafts pushing them are very vigorous,” said Weather Underground co-founder Jeff Masters in his Cat 6 blog.

Michael is forecast to make landfall in the Panhandle on Wednesday as a strong Category 2 hurricane.

The most recent October landfalling hurricane in the Florida Panhandle was Hurricane Opal – a Category 3 storm in 1995.

In 2005, Hurricane Ivan made landfall near Gulf Shores, Ala., on Sept. 16, doing severe damage to Pensacola. In 2005, Hurricane Dennis made landfall near Pensacola as a Category 3 hurricane.

University of Georgia’s Atmospheric Sciences Program Director J. Marshall Shepherd said he’s concerned the Panhandle isn’t prepared for a major hurricane.

“If Hurricane Michael becomes a major hurricane, there is the real threat of ‘major hurricane amnesia,'” Shepherd wrote in Forbes this morning. “If you have not experienced something in nearly 13 years, do you remember what it is like or how to prepare? And with the rapid growth of the coastal communities around Destin and Panama City, there are certainly new residents that have not experienced a major hurricane at all.”

Five hurricanes of Cat 2 strength or stronger have affected areas within 200 nautical miles of Tallahassee since 1877. Opal is highlighted in white.

But October storms are not unusual.

Since 1851, Florida has had 36 hurricanes make October landfalls, including 10 major hurricanes, which is considered a Category 3 or higher. That’s five times higher than runner-up Louisiana, which has experienced seven October hurricane hits, including three majorhurricanes.

Florida’s October hurricane numbers are nearly as high as the peak month of September, when Florida has experienced 39 October hurricane landfalls, 19 of which were Cat 3 or higher, according to Colorado State University hurricane expert Phil Klotzbach.

Gov. Rick Scott has issued a state of emergency for 26 counties ahead of Michael.

Up to 11 feet of storm surge is possible from Indian Pass to Crystal River. Up to 7 feet is possible from the Okaloosa / Walton county line to Indian Pass.

Michael’s formation continues to keep the 2018 hurricane season above normal for named storms with 13, compared to the average for this time of year, which is 10. There have also been 6 hurricanes, when there are normally 5, and the accumulated cyclone energy is at 96.9 when it’s normally at 87.7, according to Colorado State University.

The reason for Florida’s vulnerability deep into October is largely a function of seasonal shifts in wind patterns and sea-surface temperatures.

In early summer, most storms form in the Caribbean Sea as the atmosphere starts its summer wind up and the mid-level African Easterly Jet is just beginning to spin up waves that will begin rolling off the continent in August and September.

Those tropical waves, which become the big Cape Verde hurricanes, travel the Atlantic east to west and have more options for routing, heading into the Gulf of Mexico, smacking the East Coast or wandering harmlessly off into the northern Atlantic.

But by October, mid-latitude wintertime air starts to seep into the tropical Atlantic, increasing the westerly wind shear to muzzle African tropical waves that also find cooler sea surface temperatures.

Instead, storms find room to grow in the deeply warm waters of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Once in the Gulf, early wintertime troughs of low pressure digging down through the U.S. can pick storms up and fling them at Florida.

For Palm Beach County, Michael will ensure that the rainy season goes out with a bang.

The dry season begins Oct. 15, but it will be wet and stormy through this week with rain chances as high as 60 percent through Friday.

Rain totals through Saturday could be as high as 2 inches, according to the Weather Prediction Center.

 

UPDATE: Tropical Storm Michael aims for Gulf; Florida prepares for Category 2 hurricane on Panhandle

UPDATE: Tropical Storm Michael aims for Gulf; Florida prepares for Category 2 hurricane on Panhandle

11 p.m. UPDATE: Florida Gov. Rick Scott today warned that Tropical Storm Michael, which appears to be headed for the Florida Panhandle, could become a Category 2 hurricane with winds up to 100 miles per hour by the time it makes landfall at midweek.

Scott issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties in the Panhandle and Big Bend area. The declaration will free up resources for storm preparation.

“This storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous,” Scott said after receiving a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center.

The governor warned that storm surge could affect areas of Florida not in the storm’s direct path.

STORM 2018: CHECK THE INTERACTIVE TRACKING MAP

“If this storm hit Panama City, Tampa could still have storm surge,” said Scott, referring to two Florida cities about 375 miles apart by highway. “Every family must be prepared.”

Continue reading “UPDATE: Tropical Storm Michael aims for Gulf; Florida prepares for Category 2 hurricane on Panhandle”

JUST IN: Palm Beach County-managed beaches to reopen Friday

UPDATE 5:05 p.m.: Palm Beach County will reopen the beaches it manages on Friday.

The news comes as Boynton Beach says it will also reopen Oceanfront Park on Friday.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: Lake worth will reopen its beach on Friday.

“Although patrons will be able to swim in the ocean, they do so at their own risk,” city officials said in a press release. “A red and purple flag will be flying indicating high hazard conditions.”

UPDATE 1:15 p.m.: All beaches managed by Palm Beach County are now closed after staff complained of throat, nose and eye irritation consistent with red tide exposure.

Parking lots, picnic areas, and pavilions not on the beach will continue to be open.

Previous story:

Boynton Beach’s Oceanfront Park is closed today out of an “abundance of caution.”

Officials said there have been no reports of respiratory concerns, but that with many county beaches closed because of red tide issues, they thought it was the safe thing to do.

RELATED: Red tide facts, your questions answered

“We just want to proceed carefully and make a good informed decision,” said Wally Majors, Boynton Beach Recreation and Park Department director. “Standing here, I’m having no problems at all, but when we are dealing with people who are elderly or might have medical conditions, we want to err on the side of caution.”

Majors said he’s seen no test results off Boynton’s coastline and doesn’t know if any have been taken.

Eleven water samples taken from Palm Beach Inlet to Jupiter Inlet tested positive for low to moderate levels of Karenia brevis.

Waves break at Phipps Ocean Park in Palm Beach, Florida on October 2, 2018. A red tide outbreak has prompted the beach to be closed. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

BREAKING: State team deployed to investigate MacArthur Beach fish kill

Dead fish wash up on the beach south of Donald Ross Road during an outbreak of red tide in Juno Beach on October 3, 2018. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

UPDATE 5 p.m.: A state team of biologists will investigate a fish kill reported today at MacArthur Beach State Park.

According to a press release:

Parks staff is working to perform clean-up as quickly as possible, while coordinating with FWC to investigate any potential causes. To date, at Governor Scott’s direction, DEP has distributed grant funding of more than $10 million to support efforts in impacted counties to mitigate and combat red tide.

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Most Palm Beach County beaches will remain closed Thursday, with the exception of Phil Foster Park, Peanut Island and Ocean Ridge Hammock.

Officials said this afternoon that people are still complaining of scratchy throats and wheezing – symptoms of a red tide that was found in low to moderate quantities in waters from Palm Beach Inlet to Jupiter Inlet.

Also, “limited fish kills on some beaches” have been reported.

To report a fish kill, call the FWC’s hotline at 800-636-0511.

UPDATE: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said dead fish are being cleaned up off of MacArthur Beach Beach State Park and will be tested for red tide.

The park is closed. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will test for the Karenia brevis toxin to see if that was the cause of death.

Previous story: Palm Beach County is posting specially-made signs warning of red tide at its beaches today, which remain closed as lifeguards continue to report coughing, scratchy throats and watery eyes.

Aquatics director Laurie Schobelock said the new vinyl signs being made by the county’s sign shop will be posted at beach information boards and at beach entrances if there are extra.

She said the county is getting a few calls reporting dead fish, but that she was at Juno Beach this morning and didn’t see dead fish. She did feel the red tide-induced scratch in her throat and said it was a little sore until she returned to her office.

PHOTOS: Red tide hits Palm Beach County 

RELATED: What the red tide samples showed, and other algae questions answered

“This is all a moving target,” Schobelock said about managing the red tide situation. “The decision about closing the beaches tomorrow will be made later in the day.”

The county had expected to open beaches today, but reversed course after NOAA released a forecast that predicted “moderate” levels of red tide along Palm Beach County through at least Friday.

New red tide test results are expected today from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but it’s unknown if they will include information beyond what was released Monday that showed low to moderate levels of Karenia brevis at 11 sites tested.

“The biggest thing is if anyone is having any sort of respiratory issue they should stay away from the beaches,” Schobelock said. “Exercise caution and be aware this is going on.”

Delray Beach resident Harvey Latidus said he walked his dog this morning near Atlantic Avenue and felt what he likened to “tear gas.”

He was concerned there were no signs explaining what was happening.

“It got me good this morning,” he said. “They have the red flags out so they don’t want you in the water, but there are no signs, there’s nothing. The city could send a flier or give notice to people in regards to this.”

Red tide, which grows in saltwater, is naturally occurring in the Gulf of Mexico. This summer, onshore winds pushed the toxin close to beaches that were fouled by massive fish kills, as well as dead manatees, turtles and dolphins.

How the red tide got to Palm Beach County is still a matter of debate, although the general theory is it got caught in the Florida Current, which runs through the Florida Straits into the Gulf Stream.

Richard Stumpf, a NOAA oceanographer who tracks algae blooms by satellite, said a red tide bloom passed west of the Marquesas Keys, which are west of Key West, in mid-September. Following that, a mild algae bloom formed offshore of the upper Keys and stretched west to the Gulf Stream.

“That moved through the Palm Beach area over the weekend when you had strong easterly winds,” Stumpf said. “The winds would help accumulate cells at the shore concentrating them from a mild to a dense bloom.”

RELATED: Fighting, fingerpointing no way to fix toxic algae issue

Malcolm McFarland, a research associate at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, said the natural currents didn’t look like they were in the right place to pick up the red tide in the Gulf of Mexico.

“It could be a local bloom entirely separate from what’s happening on the west coast,” McFarland said. “And that would be even more interesting.”

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Leslie becomes 6th hurricane of 2018, spot in Caribbean still under watch

The National Hurricane Center declared Leslie a hurricane this morning as it gathered up its thunderstorms enough to develop a ragged eye overnight with 75 mph winds.

Leslie is sending large swells to Florida, but is not a direct threat to the U.S. It is notable in that it has undergone multiple transformations to gain hurricane status and keeps the season above normal in terms of activity.

Leslie is the 12th named storm this season, when the climatological norm is 9. The normal number of hurricanes for this time of year is 4.8, according to Colorado State University.

In the southwestern Caribbean, forecasters have increased the chances that a system could develop over the next five days to 30 percent.

The low pressure system has disorganized showers and thunderstorms that could become more organized as it drifts slowly across the  northwestern Caribbean Sea.

Summer of algae: Despite decades of efforts, near record levels of fertilizer fouled Lake O last year

Hurricane Irma’s torrential rains flooded Lake Okeechobee with more than 450 metric tons of phosphorus in a single month, contributing to a fertilizer dump that nourished this summer’s harmful algae bloom and surpassed the state’s phosphorus goal 10 times over.

Between May 2017 and this past April, 1,046 metric tons of phosphorus soured Lake Okeechobee, carried largely in runoff from farms, dairies, cattle ranches and communities north of Florida’s freshwater center.

About 6 percent of the water and 7 percent of the phosphorus that went into the lake during the same time period came from areas south of Lake O, according to the South Florida Water Management District.

RELATED: Palm Beach County beaches closed after people fall ill from red tide-like irritant 

Scientists predicted an algae bloom was possible after Irma’s September soaking drove lake levels up 3 feet in a month, but the extent of the phosphorus loading wasn’t clear until results were released during a September meeting of the district’s Water Resources Analysis Coalition, or WRAC.

“Last year was a fluke because of the way the rain came with Irma, but it’s a high point in a chronic problem,” said Audubon Florida scientist Paul Gray, who specializes in Lake Okeechobee research. “Clearly we haven’t done near enough to fix it.”

RELATED: White House approves massive reservoir to hold Lake O overflow

The five-year average flow of phosphorus into the lake, including last year, was 598 metric tons. In each of the four years previous, the range of phosphorus was between 415 metric tons and 574 metric tons.

The state goal set in 2001 is 105.

Read the rest of the story and find out more about the decades of failures in trying to fix the nutrient flow in MyPalmBeachPost.com.

 

South Florida heat ties records, but early cool front possible next week

A nearly two-week streak of abnormally warm temperatures is challenging South Florida records and pushing heat indexes to “concerning” levels into the weekend.

Official weather service gauges in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale cooled Wednesday morning to only 81 and 82 degrees, respectively, tying overnight heat records set in both cities in 1998.

The unofficial low Thursday morning in West Palm Beach was 82 degrees, which would break a 1991 record of 81 degrees if it holds true.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post live radar

Blame a stubborn Bermuda High, which has had a hold on the state through much of the month, for the unusual warmth. Fifteen days have seen the mercury rise to 90-degrees or warmer at Palm Beach International Airport, including hitting a whopping 93 degrees on Sept. 19 and 20.

The normal daytime high for late September is 87 or 88 with the normal overnight low typically dropping to 75.

Derrick Weitlich, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Melbourne, said the extra daytime heat has been aided by an easterly sea breeze pushing further inland and causing showers and thunderstorms to bypass the coast.

“The storms increase cloud cover and rainfall to really cool things off, but we’ve been drier than normal for most of the month and had higher temperatures,” Weitlich said.

RELATED: South Florida weekly fishing report

An average of 4.6 inches of rain has fallen over coastal Palm Beach County this month, which is more than 2 inches below normal, according to South Florida Water Management District records.

Miami meteorologists warned Thursday of “feels like”, or heat index, temperatures in the triple digits into the weekend. West Palm Beach hit a high of 91 degrees Thursday with a heat index of 105. Although warm, it’s not enough to trigger a heat advisory which is issued when the index is forecast to reach 108 degrees for at least two hours.

“Heat indices are a concern the next few days as temperatures could feel 100 to 107 in some locations in Hendry, Glades, Collier, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties,” meteorologists at the Miami NWS wrote in their forecast.

Through Monday, daytime highs in West Palm Beach are expected to reach near 90 degrees with overnights dipping into the upper 70s.

STORM 2018: Hurricane Central

This weekend, the Bermuda High will move further west with its center over the Peninsula. Its clockwise flow is forecast to whip winds up to 15 mph with higher gusts. By Monday, east winds could increase to 16 mph with higher gusts.

That means higher chances of rough seas and rip currents through the weekend.

On Tuesday, a stronger high pressure system moves across the northern part of the U.S., which could push a “backdoor” cold front “possibly through South Florida” Miami meteorologists said.

Although uncertainty in the forecast remains high, meteorologists said models have been hinting at the front with enough consistency they felt confident putting it in the forecast.

Weitlich said a backdoor front is one that comes from the northeast. He’s skeptical one would make it to South Florida this early in the season.

“In terms of temperatures, we certainly won’t see much of a change,” he said.

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UPDATE: Kirk aims for Caribbean with more tropical storm warnings expected Thursday

Tropical Storm Kirk

11 p.m. UPDATE: Tropical Storm Kirk weakened slightly to 50 mph as it moved west-northwest around 16 mph toward the Windward and Leeward Islands.

All the previous warnings and watches remain in effect as Kirk moves across the Lesser Antilles and into the eastern Caribbean.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles, mainly to the north and east of the center.

Kirk is also expected to bring heavy rains to Martinique and Dominica on Thursday, followed by eastern Puerto Rico on Friday and Saturday.

UPDATE: Kirk aims for Caribbean with tropical storm warnings expected Thursday

8 p.m. UPDATE: Tropical Storm Kirk is moving west-northwest near 18 mph with top sustained winds of 60 mph, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

STORM 2018: CHECK THE INTERACTIVE TRACKING MAP

This motion is expected to continue over the next few days, putting Kirk on track to move over the Lesser Antilles and spur tropical storm warnings Thursday afternoon.

At 8 p.m., the storm was about 230 miles east of Barbados and 355 miles east-southeast of Martinique. Warnings are in effect for Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Little change in strength is forecast until Kirk crosses the Lesser Antilles, followed by weakening over the eastern Caribbean.

UPDATE 5 p.m.:  Tropical Storm Kirk whipped up quickly to 60 mph sustained winds today after reforming into a cyclone this morning.

The storm, which is 260 miles east of Barbados, is moving west-northwest at 18 mph.

Tropical storm watches and warnings are in effect for many of the Windward Islands, including Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Tropical storm-force winds extend 115 miles from Kirk’s center.

Kirk is still expected to weaken over the weekend as it enters the eastern Caribbean and is hit with higher wind shear.

STORM 2018: CHECK THE INTERACTIVE TRACKING MAP

 

Previous story:

The cyclone once named Kirk is back to tropical storm strength, regaining its name at the 5 a.m. advisory as it heads toward the Windward Islands.

Kirk had been reduced to remnants of its former self on Monday, but National Hurricane Center forecasters said this morning the system has better organized thunderstorms around a defined center. Add maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and Kirk is reborn.

STORM 2018: CHECK THE INTERACTIVE TRACKING MAP

The storm is about 470 miles east of Barbados and moving west at 18 mph.

Tropical storm watches and warnings have been posted for southern Windward Islands including, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Tropical storm-force winds extend out 115 miles from Kirk’s center.

Kirk may strengthen slightly before it gets beat down in the eastern Caribbean Sea by wind shear. It is forecast to a weaken to a depression over the weekend.

Tropical Storm Kirk nears the Windward Islands with 45 mph sustained winds on Sept. 26, 2018.

A weak low pressure system off the Carolinas never did form, and was given just a 30 percent chance of forming over the next 48 hours.

RELATED: It’s fall, but when will South Florida start feeling like it? 

The system is expected to produce scattered rain and rough surf along the Carolinas as it moves northeastward to merge with a front that will push through over the weekend.

Through this morning, this hurricane season is still above normal for this time of year for named storms with 12, compared the climatological norm of 8.7, according to Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project. Named storm days (57), number of hurricanes (5) and Accumulated Cyclone Energy (83) are also higher than normal.

CSU’s next two-week forecast is scheduled for release Thursday.

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UPDATE: Return of Kirk? Chance of tropical storm reforming up to 70%

Tropical Weather Outlook

8 p.m. UPDATE: The remnants of Tropical Storm Kirk are likely to redevelop into a tropical cyclone during the next day or two before it moves into an area of highly unfavorable upper-level winds as it approaches the Caribbean, according to the latest Tropical Weather Outlook from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

STORM 2018: The next Tropical Outlook will be issued at 2 a.m. Click here for an update

At 8 p.m., the remnants were about 750 miles east of the Windward Islands and moving quickly westward at 20-25 mph. Chance of tropical formation in the next 48 hours was 70 percent.

Meanwhile, off the coast of North Carolina, a low pressure area still has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical system. An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft reported that the circulation has become better defined but the associated showers and thunderstorms remain disorganized.

Continue reading “UPDATE: Return of Kirk? Chance of tropical storm reforming up to 70%”