Overnight, Invest 98L became Tropical Depression #9. This is the first step towards possibly strengthening to a major hurricane which could impact Central Florida by midweek.
Let’s start out with the bottom line up front: As of right now, Tropical Storm conditions are possible in Central Florida by Tuesday; this is subject to change in terms of when, where, and how bad (for the better or for the worse). Now is the time to refresh any needed hurricane supplies, but you don’t yet need to put any major plans into action.
Many of the main points we shared Thursday in regards to this storm remain valid today; the only real difference is that enough development has happened that the National Hurricane Center feels confident enough to upgrade the storm’s status and begin issuing a forecast cone.
As of right now, the attractions area is within that cone, at the very end of the five-day forecast period.
Still, there’s some uncertainty in the mix, so it’ll be a day or two before we have a better idea of just what impacts the attractions could see. From the NHC:
Early next week the system is forecast to move near or over western Cuba as a strengthening hurricane and then approach the Florida peninsula at or near major hurricane strength, with the potential for significant impacts from storm surge, hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall. While it is too soon to determine the exact magnitude and location of these impacts, residents in Cuba, the Florida Keys, and the Florida peninsula should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and closely monitor forecast updates through the weekend.
Since we’re all going to be going cone-crazy over the next few days, let’s take a moment to talk about what the infamous NHC Cone actually means.
The Cone represents the possible path of just the center of the storm, not the entire area of impacts. Wind and rain are possible for 100 or more miles outside of the cone in many cases.
The Cone represents an area of uncertainty, based on the past five years of forecasting data (a study of where they though every storm would go, versus where every storm actually went). Two Thirds of the time, the center of the storm will actually wind up some where within that shaded cone area. That means that 1/3rd of the time — about 33% of the time — the center will wind up outside of the cone.
Here’s a video from the NHC that helps to better explain it.
For the central Florida Attractions Area, which is quite far inland, the cone is a good start, but you’ll be better served by forecast and advisory products issued by the National Weather Service Office in Melbourne, FL.
As of this writing, here’s the forecast for the area around Walt Disney World:
Tuesday: Tropical storm conditions possible. A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 88.
Tuesday Night: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 72. Northeast wind around 10 mph.
Wednesday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 85. Windy, with an east northeast wind 25 to 35 mph, with gusts as high as 45 mph.
Wednesday Night: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71. Windy, with a northwest wind 25 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 45 mph.
Thursday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 84. Northeast wind 10 to 15 mph.Source: NWS MLB 11:15AM Fri Sep 23
There will be much to watch and discuss over the next few days, but it’s probably a safe bet that stores will be unpleasant over the weekend. If you’re missing a few items from your hurricane pantry, hitting a store on your lunch break today or even early in the morning on Saturday would probably be wiser than waiting until Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon. If and when any tropical storm or hurricane watches are issued (usually 48 hours in advance of landfall), the stores will get worse rapidly.
Keep calm and carry on!