PHOTOS: Multiple reports of waterspout off Palm Beach

The National Weather Service has received multiple reports of a waterspout seen off Palm Beach today around 2:30 p.m.

The waters surrounding Florida provide warmth and moisture for growing clouds that can spawn waterspouts. Often, the clouds that form them are not thunderstorms.

In fact, it doesn’t have to be raining for a waterspout to develop, and they can occur while skies are partly sunny.

A water spout Tuesday morning, July 7, 2015, off the coast of Manalapan. (Photo by Bruce Miller/The Palm Beach Post)

Tropical Atlantic lights up again, four areas being watched

The tropical Atlantic is stirring once again with four areas being watched by the National Hurricane Center for potential cyclonic development.

None of the knots of showers and thunderstorms are an imminent threat to the U.S.

But forecasters said the next named storm, which would be Kirk, could form over the weekend when an area of low pressure in the central subtropical Atlantic finds its way into more favorable conditions.

The spot of disturbed weather, which is midway between Bermuda and Azores, has a 70 percent chance of developing over the next five days.

STORM 2018: Hurricane Central

Of the other three areas, two have meager shots of becoming something more in the short term, while the third — a tropical wave off the coast of Africa — has a 60 percent chance of development.

“The coming weeks into mid-October often bring several additional tropical storms and hurricanes,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski wrote in his forecast. “This year may not be any exception.”

Saharan air appears in reds and oranges in this modified satellite image from Sept. 21, 2018.

One of the areas being watched is about 100 miles southeast of Bermuda and has moisture associated with the now defunct Florence, which made landall last week in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane. It has a 30 percent chance of development over five days.

National Hurriane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said the area doesn’t contain enough of Florence to keep that name if it becomes a tropical storm.

After Kirk, the next two names on the 2018 storm list are Leslie and Michael.

RELATED: Surfers jam beaches in hope of Florence swells

The tropical wave, which is about 600 miles south-southeast of the Cabo Verde Islands, was showing signs of organization Friday with environmental conditions forecast to be more accommodating for a tropical depression to form next week.

The peak of the hurricane season was Sept. 10. This season has so far had 10 named storms and five hurricanes. Three hurricanes — Florence, Helene and Isaac — and two tropical storms — Gordon and Joyce — formed between Sept. 1 and Sept. 12.

As of Friday, the season remained more active than normal. Many forecasts reduced their predictions because they believed a fall El Niño was likely. El Niño climate patterns create storm-killing wind shear and are associated with below normal hurricane seasons.

“The anticipated El Niño for this upcoming fall and winter has been lagging, and we are still technically in a neutral phase,” said AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski. “Even though we are over the hump in terms of the average peak of hurricane season, there is still more hurricane season to go.”

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Tenacious tropics try to stir up Kirk under Saharan air plume

The tropics are nothing if not tenacious this September, with a tropical wave trying to become the next named storm under a plume of dry Saharan air.

National Hurricane Center forecasters are giving the area of disturbed weather only a 20 percent of tropical development over the next five days, with nearly no chance of development in the next 48 hours.

STORM 2018: Hurricane Central

But it will have to spin up fast to earn the moniker Kirk because winds become less favorable for development over the weekend.

A plume of Saharan air is shown in the orange and red colors leaving the coast of Africa.

Jason Dunion, a meteorologist with the University of Miami who tracks Saharan air, said the current outbreak is “fairly impressive”, but not extremely unusual for this time of year.

And, it’s unlikely it will make it all the way into the Caribbean.

According to Dunion’s research, the Saharan air layer, or SAL, makes it into the Caribbean about 40 percent of the time between late June to early August.

RELATED: Tropics cool after frenetic week of storms…what’s on the horizon? 

But by September, SAL outbreaks overspread the Caribbean only 10 to 15 percent of the time.

“It’s just that they’re a bit smaller than their June to August cousins and they especially don’t tend to reach as far west,” Dunion said.

Forecasters said Monday that tropical development was unlikely over the next 10 days.

While hurricane season lasts through Nov. 30, the tropical waves that produce Cape Verde storms tend to diminish by late September, said Bob Henson, a meteorologist for Weather Underground, part of IBM.

“We’ve come past the normal peak and it was an especially sharp peak this year because everything kind of aligned,” Henson said. “It was just a constellation of ingredients that came together and if the formula changes just a little bit, the numbers can drop pretty sharply.”

This year, three hurricanes — Florence, Helene and Isaac — and two tropical storms — Gordon and Joyce — formed between Sept. 1 and Sept. 12.

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VIDEO: Weather reporters told to “stop acting like you’re hanging on for dear life”

Weather Channel reporter buffeted by winds as two people seemingly stride behind him unimpeded by Hurricane Florence’s winds.

Weather reporters covering Hurricane Florence no doubt dealt with hammering wind, driving rain, and charging storm surge.

But some people are criticizing what they feel are overly-dramatic reports from the storm.

In one clip, seasoned Weather Channel reporter Mike Seidel is bracing against Florence’s wind in Wilmington, N.C. when two people seemingly stride by behind him with little trouble in the gale.

The Weather Channel defended the experienced meteorologist.

“It’s important to note that the two individuals in the background are walking on concrete and Mike Seidel is trying to maintain his footing on wet grass, after reporting on-air until 1 a.m. this morning and is undoubtedly exhausted,” it said in a statement.

The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang called out Hurricane Florence reporters in general who it thought were “manufacturing” action, “leaning into 30 mph winds like they are battling a Category 5.”

Deputy Weather Editor Angela Fritz said the drama is “driving me up the wall.”

“Really? There is no need for this,” she wrote in a column. “The wind is not the story here, and everyone knows it because they watched Florence drop in strength before it made landfall.”

Plus, Fritz said, if you are going to lean into the winds of a raging storm (turn your sound down) “do it right.” 

In other social media posts, meteorologists were criticized for standing outside in the weather, while admonishing viewers not to do the same.

Ginger Zee, chief meteorologist at ABC News, responded saying she always puts safety first.

Florida Climatologist David Zierden also chimed in, asking if being outside during a storm is any less safe than a football game.

Hurricane Florence makes landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

Hurricane Florence made landfall this morning near Wrightsville Beach, N.C. at 7:15 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph at landfall as it continues its 6-mph crawl ashore.

RELATED: Surfers jam beaches in South Florida for Florence swell 

Storm surge as high as 7 feet was recorded at Emerald Isle, N.C. as the Category 1 hurricane moves west.

Wilmington, N.C. is experiencing the highest winds its seen since 1960 when Hurricane Donna struck. Gusts at the Wilmington International Airport this morning have been measured as high as 105 mph.

Although Florence dropped to a Category 1, its wind field expanded with hurricane force-winds now reaching 80 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds stretching out 195 miles.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington said rainfall amounts of 25 to 35 inches over the next few days could set records for single storm rainfall accumulation.

In Wilmington, where rainfall records date back to 1871, these are the five largest storm total rainfall events on record:

  1. 22.54 inches in Sept. 2010
  2. 19.06 inches in Sept. 1999 (Hurricane Floyd)
  3. 13.99 inches in Oct. 2015
  4. 13.85 inches in Sept. 1984 (Hurricane Diana)
  5. 13.80 inches in Oct. 2005


Hurricane Florence making landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C. on Sept. 14, 2018.

Hurricane Florence has now been a named storm for 13 days, equaling the length of time that Hurricane Irma was a named storm in 2017, according to Colorado State University storm researcher Phil Klotzbach.

This hurricane season has surpassed the average for the number of  named storms, storm days, hurricane days and Accumulated Cyclone Energy, or ACE.

With the formation of Joyce this week, there have been 10 named storms with 5 hurricanes and 1 major hurricane. There have been 47.5 named storm days, 15.5 hurricane days and 75.4 of ACE.

The normal season at this point has 7 named storms, 3.4 hurricanes and 1.5 major hurricanes. Also, normal years have 32 named storm days at this point, with 56.3 of ACE.

Hurricane Florence makes landfall as a Category 1 storm near Wrightsville Beach, N.C. Sept. 14, 2018.

Don’t shoot guns at Florence; ‘I can’t believe I have to write this’

As with 2017’s Hurricane Irma, and likely previous storms that were unwittingly born post Internet, Hurricane Florence is generating some satirical memes and Facebook pages that some people may be falling for.

The Washington Post reports that the perennial Sharknado-motivated Tweets about Florence picking up sharks and flinging them toward shore is making the rounds. It even attributes the news to NOAA Hurricane Hunters.

Another one that motivated Florida’s Pasco County Sheriff’s Office to respond during Irma, is that shooting guns at Florence may make it go away.

The Facebook page “Shooting Guns at Hurricane Florence to Scare it Away” contains a disclaimer from host Ryan Stumpf that recommends against taking the site’s advice.

“Do not actually discharge firearms into the air. You could kill someone and you cannot frighten a hurricane. I can’t believe I actually have to write this.”

And (I can’t believe I’m going to go here) there is a Facebook group that recommends throwing tampons at Florence, playing on the nickname “Aunt Flo” for menstruation.

This disclaimer is on the page:

“This is not real. If you really think throwing some tampons at the hurricane is going to stop it, please go see your doctor.”

Photo of Florence from the International Space Station, courtesy NASA, @astro_alex

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UPDATE: More than 5 million under hurricane watches, warnings as Florence eyes Carolina coast

Hurricane Florence

More than 5 million people were under hurricane warnings or watches on the U.S. East Coast on Tuesday as Hurricane Florence barreled toward the Carolinas with Category 4 winds and an expected landfall Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

RELATED: Hurricane Florence has ingredients that make experts worry

Motorists streamed inland on highways converted into one-way evacuation routes as about 1.7 million people in three states were warned to get out of the way of Florence, the Associated Press reported.

RELATED: In simulation, Category 4 hurricane devastated East Coast

“This storm is a monster,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. “It’s big and it’s vicious. It is an extremely dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane.”

RELATED: Hurricane could flood many waste sites, creating toxic brew

At 11 p.m., Florence was about 355 miles southwest of Bermuda and 670 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, N.C., according to the National Hurricane Center. Top sustained winds remained at 140 mph.

RELATED: To prep for Hurricane Florence, investors sell off insurers

Tropical Storm Isaac

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Isaac continued to weaken slightly as it moved toward the Caribbean. Top winds dropped to 65 mph at 11 p.m.

A tropical storm warning was issued for Martinique, Guadeloupe and Dominica. Tropical storm conditions are expected on those islands by Wednesday night or early Thursday.

Hurricane Helene

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Hurricane Helene is still packing 100-mph winds but it should soon fade away as it moves into the open ocean.

According to the hurricane center, gradual weakening is likely over the next couple of days, and Helene is expected to become a tropical storm by Thursday. Helene is forecast to accelerate and turn toward the northeast by the end of the week.

Hurricane Florence

UPDATE 8 p.m.: Hurricane Florence remains at 140 mph as it threatens the U.S. East Coast with deadly storm surge and heavy rainfall. At 8 p.m., the storm was about 725 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, N.C., according to the National Hurricane Center.

RELATED: What makes Hurricane Florence so dangerous to South Florida?

Storm surge and hurricane watches and warnings are in effect for the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts.

RELATED: Plane, train woes loom as Hurricane Florence approaches

On the current forecast track, the hurricane center predicts, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic between Bermuda and the Bahamas through Wednesday, then approach the coast of North Carolina or South Carolina in the hurricane warning area on Thursday and Friday.

RELATED: FPL sending crews to the Carolinas to help after Florence

Strengthening is forecast tonight and Wednesday. While some weakening is expected on Thursday, Florence is forecast to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through landfall.


Tropical Storm Isaac

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Isaac began to lose some of its organization as it moved quickly westward about 610 miles east of the Lesser Antilles.

Isaac is forecast to move near or over the central Lesser Antilles on Thursday, into the eastern Caribbean on Thursday night, then into the central Caribbean by the weekend.

At 8 p.m., Isaac’s maximum sustained winds were 70 mph, just below hurricane strength. The storm is expected to be near hurricane strength when it moves through the central Lesser Antilles, with some weakening forecast later on Friday and Saturday.

New systems developing? Check the latest Tropical Outlook

UPDATE 5 p.m.:  Hurricane Florence’s wind speeds increased to 140 mph this afternoon as hurricane and storm surge warnings go up along the South Carolina and North Carolina coast.

A hurricane warning means tropical storm-force winds are expected in the area within 36 hours.

As of 5 p.m., Florence was about 785 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, N.C., and moving west-northwest at 17 mph.

While Florence is expected to reach wind speeds of 150 mph, the forecast calls for it to decrease to a 115 mph Category 3 hurricane near landfall.

UPDATE 2 p.m.: Hurricane Florence maintained 130 mph wind speeds this afternoon, but is getting better organized and growing in size.

National Hurricane Center forecasters during the intermediate 2 p.m. advisory said hurricane-force winds have expanded outward up to 60 miles with tropical storm-force winds reaching out 170 miles from the storm’s center.

There were no changes to the storm surge watches and warnings for the Carolina’s. Forecasters are predicting between a 2-to 12-foot surge depending on where the storm comes ashore and if the peak surge occurs during high tide.

An area of disturbed weather over the extreme northwestern Caribbean could become a tropical depression Thursday as it moves across the western Gulf of Mexico.

Forecasters gave it a 50 percent chance of formation over the next 48 hours and a 70 percent chance of formation over five days.

If it becomes a tropical storm, it would be named Joyce.

UPDATE 11 a.m.:  Hurricane Florence lost some wind speed this morning, but is expected to restrengthen today as it crosses warm water as it stays on a track toward the coast.

The National Hurricane Center estimates Florence is a low-end Cat 4 storm with 130 mph winds, but will regain 140 mph power, and possibly grow to have wind speeds of 150 mph.

There has been no significant change in Florence’s track, which has it making landfall late Thursday or early Friday somewhere along the coastline of the Carolina’s.

Tropical Storm Isaac has triggered new watches for Caribbean islands.

Hurricane watches have also been issued for Guadeloupe, Dominica and Martinique, and a tropical storm watch has been issued for Antigua and Montserrat.

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The National Hurricane Center this morning issued hurricane and storm surge watches for much of the North Carolina and South Carolina coastline, with Florence expected to be a Category 4 hurricane at landfall late Thursday or early Friday.

As of the 5 a.m. advisory, Florence was a 140-mph storm about 975 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, N.C. It was moving west-northwest at 15 mph.

A special update issued at 7:45 a.m. said Hurricane Hunters found Florence had weakened to 130 mph, but is expected to restrengthen later today.

“These fluctuations are normal. There is nothing to stop this in the atmosphere from it staying a major hurricane,” said Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center.


Forecasters said Florence’s wind speeds could fluctuate as it nears the coast, but that it is expected to remain a dangerous Category 4 hurricane.

A hurricane watch means tropical storm force winds are expected within the next 48 hours.

While storm surge and wind damage are major concerns, the threat of inland flooding from torrential rains is increasing as the storm is forecast to meander over the eastern portions of the coast.

RELATED: Why most of human tragedy from hurricanes comes after the storm

The Weather Prediction Center is forecasting as much as 20 inches of rain over part of North Carolina through Tuesday.

“That’s the really scary scenario with Florence,” said Michael Bell, an associate professor for science at Colorado State University. “Certainly, we’re not expecting a Hurricane Harvey, which was almost eight days of rain. But even a few days of tropical rainfall can cause flooding.”

According to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach, the last time there was a storm as strong as Florence as far north as it is was 2010’s Hurricane Earl.

While mid-August through mid-October is the busiest period for Atlantic hurricanes, Sept. 10 is the pinnacle — a time when warm water and low wind shear conspire in earnest to turn tropical waves into menacing storms.

RELATED: Three hurricanes crowd the Atlantic, Florida out of the fray for now

“It sure is living up to that distinction this year,” Klotzbach said Monday in a social media post. “Currently we have three hurricanes and two other areas given a medium chance of development in the next five days.”

Isaac fell to a tropical storm late Monday, but is expected to restrengthen briefly before weakening again.

Hurricane Florence, Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Helene.

The disturbance south of Cuba was given a 60 percent chance of development this morning with a tropical depression expected to form Thursday or Friday.

Regardless of development, forecasters warned that heavy rainfall is possible in Texas and Louisiana from the system.

RELATED: Will a hurricane be named after you this season 

In the northeastern Atlantic, a non-tropical area of low pressure is forecast to form along a trough of low pressure located over the northeastern Atlantic. It has a 50 percent chance of development over five days.

The next names on the 2018 storm list are Joyce and Kirk.

Hurricane Irma: 6.8 million evacuated, survey finds many won’t next time

Business owners in Palm Beach County had a message for Hurricane Irma. (Greg Lovett/Palm Beach Post)

Nearly 25 percent of South Florida residents surveyed about hurricane preparations in the year after Irma said they would not evacuate if a Category 3 or 4 storm was headed their way even if it was forecast to hit within 10 miles of their home.

According to a survey released Monday – the year anniversary of Hurricane Irma’s Florida landfall – by the  FAIR Foundation, and Get Ready Florida! about 18 percent of Floridians statewide said they would not evacuate in the face of a Cat 3 or 4 storm.

South Florida includes Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

RELATED: Irma forced mass evacuations; officials urge staying home next time

The survey polled 1,000 Florida residents between Aug. 23 and Sept. 2 as part of the National Hurricane Survival Initiative.

“You’d think that after Irma caused so much damage and cost so many lives in Florida last year, more people would understand what’s at stake,” said former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, in a press release announcing the survey. “Floridians really have to take these risks seriously and be prepared for the worst because it can come at any time.”

Hurricane Irma radar image, courtesy Brian McNoldy

While no one argues people in zones ordered to evacuate by emergency managers should do so, there has been discussion in the year following Irma about whether too many people fled the storm that didn’t need to.

IRMA ANNIVERSARY: A year later, thread of Keys society unraveling 

It’s estimated as many as 3 million people who evacuated were not in evacuation zones.

And these so-called “shadow evacuees” may be encouraged to ride out the next storm at home in an effort to minimize traffic, extend gas supplies and increase available hotel rooms.

“I think it’s fair to suggest the people stay put if they can because they are taking gas and hotel rooms from people who are leaving to save their lives,” said Palm Beach County Emergency Manager Bill Johnson in an April Palm Beach Post story about over evacuations.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered in Palm Beach County for about 153,000 people. Another 138,000 people live in areas that were under voluntary evacuation. About 17,000 people stayed in Palm Beach County shelters.

Related: Official wind gauges went dark during Irma.

With the exception of mobile homes, evacuations in Florida are based on storm surge, not wind. That means people should evacuate tens of miles inland, not hundreds of miles north, Johnson said.

“We ask people to stay in the county,” Johnson said. “We need to break down the myths that you need to evacuate to Arkansas to be safe.”

Other findings of the survey included:

  • A majority of Floridians who evacuated during Hurricane Irma said the process cost them more than $300. Of these, 40% said the evacuation cost them $500 or more, while an additional 20% said the cost was between $300 and $500.
  • For the most part, Floridians are more prepared to meet the needs of their pets in a storm than they are the humans in their home.
  • The portion of Floridians who mistakenly believe it’s safe to run a generator somewhere in the home has increased over the past nine months.
  • More than one-third of Floridians who live less than 2 miles from the coast don’t have flood insurance.
  • More than half don’t know what their homeowners or renters insurance covers in a hurricane, with many incorrectly believing insurance covers things like replacing spoiled food, removing debris from the yard, and buying a generator.

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UPDATE: Tropical depressions eight and nine form, Florence shifts west

UPDATE 5 p.m.: The National Hurricane Center is now issuing advisories for tropical depressions eight and nine, and forecasts for Tropical Storm Florence, which continues on a westerly track.

Forecasters said the risk of Florence directly impacting the east coast next week has increased and asked that people monitor the track through the weekend “and ensure they have their hurricane plans in place.”

Florence has so far been steered west by the Bermuda High, but that high is forecast to retreat to the east over the next few days. At the same time, an unseasonably strong area of high pressure, which is more likely to form in deep summer than fall, will come out of Canada and develop over the western Atlantic early next week.

Florence may be able to zip north between the two highs, or it could get caught in the clockwise flow of the second one and continue west toward the U.S. coast.

“We understand the broad strokes, but the details count, and will make the difference between a landfall in the Carolinas, a track up the mid-Atlantic coast, or an early turn keepign the storm offshore,” said hurricane expert and Miami TV meteorologists Bryan Norcross. “It is simply too early to know.”

As of 5 p.m. Friday, Florence had 65 mph sustained winds and was heading west at 8 mph. The storm, which was 905 miles east-southeast of Bermuda, is expected to strengthen to a Category 4 hurricane early next week.

UPDATE 2 p.m.: A fourth area to watch in the tropical Atlantic was added this afternoon as a trough of low pressure between Bermuda and the Carolinas was given a 20 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone over the next five days.

The area, dubbed Invest 94L, has only a 10 percent chance of becoming something tropical over 48 hours.

It joins Tropical Storm Florence, Invest 92L and Potential Tropical Cyclone Eight as areas to watch this weekend.

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UPDATE 11 a.m.: The National Hurricane Center says risks have increased to the U.S. from Tropical Storm Florence, but there is still high uncertainty past Tuesday on its exact path.

As of the 11 a.m. advisory, Tropical Storm Florence had 65 mph winds and is moving west at 8 mph. It is about 935 miles east-southeast of Bermuda.

Florence is expected to regain major hurricane strength early next week.

Regardless of Florence’s eventual track, large swells will begin hitting Bermuda later today and portions of the east coast this weekend.

“The risk of other direct impacts associated with Florence along the U.S. East Coast next week has increased,” forecasters wrote. “However, there is still a very large uncertainty in model forecasts of Florence’s track beyond day 5.”

From left, Tropical Storm Florence, Invest 92L and Potential Tropical Cyclone 8.

Also in the 11 a.m. advisory, the National Hurricane Center identified Potential Tropical Cyclone Eight off the coast of Africa, giving it a 90 percent chance of forming into a tropical storm in the next 36 to 48 hours.

PTC Eight is one of the two tropical waves that forecasters have been watching near the coast of Africa and in the main development region of the tropical Atlantic.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Cabo Verde Islands. The five-day forecast has the system weakening by Tuesday and not reaching hurricane strength. 

Hurricane experts from Weather Underground and AccuWeather said Florida may want to closely watch Potential Tropical Cyclone Eight and Invest 92L that are expected to become tropical cyclones in the next few days.

Because they are brewing at lower latitudes than Florence, meteorologists said there is a higher likelihood for them to take a more traditional September path into the Caribbean.

If they become tropical storms, they’ll be named Helene and Isaac.

“If I were in Florida, I’d be more concerned about 92L than Florence,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground. “This is the time of year when you get these Cape Verde-type systems forming that are the greatest danger to Florida.”

The NHC also designated a new area of interest off the Carolinas as Invest 94L. It hasn’t been given a chance of development yet as far as tropical cyclone activity, but will be added to the tropical outlook at 2 p.m.

Invest 94L is an elongated trough off the Carolinas that will be added to the NHC Outlook at 2 p.m.

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Florence was reduced to a tropical storm overnight with sustained winds of 65 mph, but it is expected to restrengthen to a major hurricane as it remains on a westerly track.

By Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center expects Florence to be a 125-mph Category 3 hurricane south of  Bermuda.

BOOKMARK The Palm Beach Post’s hurricane tracking map

While forecasters said it is too early to tell how close Florence will come to the U.S., it should stay west through the weekend before a high pressure area to its north and a trough to its west pick it up and turn it toward the northwest.

But there is still considerable uncertainty in the strength of the high pressure and whether the trough will have any “notable” impact on Florence’s path.

The NHC’s forecast extends just five days, but other meteorologists are looking deeper into next week and considering the possibility of a U.S. landfall.

“It’s going to be a formidable storm,” said Weather Company meteorologist Dale Eck, who is head of forecast operations for the Americas. “We can cross our fingers and hope it will only be a close call, but it will definitely be some type of threat.”

Hurricane experts from Weather Underground and AccuWeather said Florida may want to more closely watch the two tropical waves that are expected to become tropical cyclones in the next few days.

Because they are brewing at lower latitudes than Florence, meteorologists said there is a higher likelihood for them to take a more traditional September path into the Caribbean.

RELATED: Hurricane peak season is here, what to expect

The first wave, dubbed Invest 92L, has an 80 to 90 percent chance of forming over the next two to five days. It’s followed by a wave with a 60 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next five days.

If they become tropical storms, they’ll be named Helene and Isaac.

“If I were in Florida, I’d be more concerned about 92L than Florence,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground. “This is the time of year when you get these Cape Verde-type systems forming that are the greatest danger to Florida.”

Some hurricane experts said Florida should be concerned about two tropical waves that could become tropical cyclones at lower latitudes.

Peak hurricane season runs from about mid-August through mid-October with the week of Sept. 15 amassing the most storms climatologically.

On Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it will reduce harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie Estuary and Caloosahatchee River beginning Friday, but added that that decision could change depending on the tropics.

RELATED: Lake Okeechobee on “dangerous rise” into peak hurricane season

Heavy rain from a tropical system can push the lake to unsafe levels, risking a breach in the Herbert Hoover Dike. The lake was 14.66 above sea level on Thursday.

“What happens with those storms in the Atlantic could make things change significantly,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds, Jacksonville district deputy commander for the Corps.

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UPDATE: Florence plummets to Cat 1, expected to restrengthen next week

UPDATE 5 p.m.: Hurricane Florence is fighting wind shear that knocked it down to a Category 1 storm with 80 mph winds.

The storm, which just 24 hours ago was a powerful Cat 4, is about 1,050 miles east-southeast of Bermuda and moving northwest at 10 ,m.p.h.

The National Hurricane Center’s 5-day forecast has Florence restrengthening to a Category 3 hurricane early next week.

Forecasters shifted Florence’s track slightly to the south, but cautioned there is a discrepancy in track models after Sunday.

“The uncertainty in this forecast remains larger than normal,” hurricane center forecasters wrote in their 5 p.m. advisory.

While the path of a weakened Florence was still a puzzle Thursday, it’s expected regain Category 3 muscle as it nears Bermuda on Tuesday, putting meteorologists on edge that a powerful hurricane could be off the U.S. east coast late next week.

“It’s going to be a formidable storm,” said Weather Company meteorologist Dale Eck, who is head of forecast operations for the Americas. “We can cross our fingers our fingers and hope it will only be a close call, but it will definitely be some type of threat.”


A sheared Hurricane Florence drops to a Cat 1 with 80 mph winds.



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Hurricane Florence, which roared to a major tropical cyclone on Wednesday, could impact the U.S. coastline this weekend with large ocean swells that forecasters called “life threatening.”

Florence reached Category 4 power briefly Wednesday before easing back to a Category 3. This morning, the storm has maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and is moving northwest at 12 mph. It is about 1,100 miles east-southeast of Bermuda.

Some additional weakening is expected over the next few days as Florence is buffeted by wind shear, but the National Hurricane Center forecast has it restrengthening over the weekend.

Check the Palm Beach Post storm tracking map.

Category 3 Hurricane Florence is 1,170 miles east-southeast of Bermuda.

Where Florence will go is still a mystery. Forecast models are not in agreement as to the track, which is dependent on an area of high pressure in the central Atlantic that could move more westerly this week with Florence riding underneath of it.

If the high pressure weakens, Florence could be little more than a fish storm heading away from the U.S and out to sea.

RELATED: Four hurricane graphics to know before a storm hits

“However, if the high pressure area remains strong, then Florence may complete a 3,500-mile-long journey over the Atlantic and be guided right into the U.S. East Coast somewhere from the Carolinas to southern New England sometime during Wednesday or Thursday of next week,” AccuWeather forecasters said.

Behind Florence, the National Hurricane Center is watching two tropical waves it is giving medium to high chances of development over the next 3 to 5 days.

The first wave has been given a 90 percent chance of development and is expected to become a tropical depression by Monday.

The second wave, which will leave Africa tomorrow, has been given a 50 percent chance of development.

The next names on the 2018 storm list are Helene and Isaac.

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