It feels like only three hours ago that we told you we might see a Tropical Depression off the coast of Florida tonight. TD 19 has now formed and a Tropical Storm Watch is already in effect for parts of the southeast Florida Coast. The thinking remains the same as earlier, with this being more of a rain event for south (and maybe central) Florida, rather than a wind event. The storm is currently expected to reach just shy of hurricane status before eventually making a final landfall somewhere along the north-central Gulf coast; however it’s worth noting that the National Hurricane Center indicates this thinking could change.
It is uncertain whether the large burst of convection over the center will continue and cause the depression to become a tropical storm before reaching Florida. However, since it is only a 5 kt increase from the current intensity, it is possible that tropical storm conditions could still occur along the southeast Florida coast late tonight, and a tropical storm watch has been issued. Otherwise, after the system reaches the eastern Gulf of Mexico, steady intensification is expected through the weekend due to expected light wind shear and very warm water. Some increase in shear could occur over the northern Gulf of Mexico but that is uncertain at this time. The first forecast will stay conservative and only show a peak intensity of 60 kt in 3 to 4 days, but do not be surprised if that is revised upward on later forecasts once other models better initialize the depression.
As for local impacts here in Central Florida, there’s a mention of heavy rainfall within the NHC’s latest discussion…
Heavy rainfall is expected to produce isolated flash flooding over portions of central and southern Florida and prolong existing minor river flooding in the Tampa Bay area.
Keep calm and carry on!