Florida has declared an emergency due to a tropical disturbance in the northwestern Caribbean Sea and southern Gulf of Mexico, with forecasters giving it a high chance of development.
The National Hurricane Center has been tracking the disturbance, dubbed Invest 93L, for the last few days. The designation “invest” means that the agency has begun to increase its system monitoring, which appears to be headed for the Gulf of Mexico.
The NHC says there is a 90% chance that a tropical depression or tropical storm will form within the next 48 hours.
It is still uncertain where Invest 93L is headed, but Florida officials say they are closely monitoring the system, which will be named Idalia if it develops into a tropical storm or hurricane.
“Futuretrack also shows that while it may strengthen, it’s still uncertain where in the U.S. that this system could impact. So we’re going to be watching the Sunshine State very closely and all across the Gulf Coast over the next couple of days,” FOX Weather meteorologist Kiyana Lewis said. “Whether we see that in Florida or not, heavy rain in the possibility of flooding is certainly going to be on the table into early next week.”
Several computer models have indicated that it may make landfall in Florida, but the forecast will become more clear in the coming days. Officials say that everyone along the Gulf Coast should review their hurricane preparedness plan.
“Once this gets going and fully developed, we could see this impact the Gulf Coast, the U.S., possibly the Sunshine State, in a matter of days,” Lewis said. “It really wouldn’t take much around 2–4 days to see this impact parts of Florida.”
Emergency officials in Florida said they are closely monitoring the system.
Kevin Guthrie, director of Florida’s Emergency Management Division, told FOX Weather on Friday, “What we’re most concerned about right now is a matter of flooding across the (Florida) peninsula.”
Guthrie expressed concern that a tropical storm or low-end Category 1 hurricane could make landfall near Tampa Bay.
“The Gulf of Mexico is very, very warm right now. So we don’t know exactly what we’re going to be facing,” he added. “But we’re going to be prepping over the next three days, over the weekend, as if we were going to be getting a Category 1 hurricane and making those preparations, asking people to listen to their local emergency managers.”
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