- Hurricane Center is watching a budding storm in Caribbean
- The system would be the second in about a week; third of 2016
The second tropical storm in about a week may be threatening Florida by Monday if conditions keep deteriorating in the western Caribbean Sea.
An area of rain and thunderstorms now drifting toward Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has a 60 percent chance of becoming a tropical system in the next five days, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
“We think there is a high chance for tropical development and a decent chance of a tropical depression and even a tropical storm moving into central Florida Monday afternoon or Monday night,” said Ken Clark, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.
If it reaches tropical storm strength with winds of 39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour, it would be named Colin. Tropical Storm Bonnie grew out of a tropical depression off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday. After sending drenching rain across the Southeast and East Coast, it has since weakened and is moving east into the Atlantic.
So far, two tropical systems have formed in 2016. The first, Hurricane Alex, developed in the mid-Atlantic in January. Even so, both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Colorado State University have predicted that the six-month hurricane season, which officially began Wednesday, should be near-normal. The long-term average is 12 named systems.
The potential storm drifting northwest toward Mexico is expected to change course and head to Florida this weekend, Clark said. The path would take it away from the bulk of the natural gas platforms and oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
While the track is fairly certain, Clark said it’s not as clear how strong the storm will be. Even if it doesn’t grow into a tropical system, it could bring heavy rain to central Florida. After it crosses the state, it likely will keep going into the Atlantic.
“Probably the only land mass it will hit in the United States will be Florida,” Clark said.