TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — While Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine looked a little better organized on satellite Wednesday with more showers and storms closer to the center, hurricane hunters have still been unable to find a well-defined center of circulation.
As of 5 p.m. ET, the system is still just Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine. It is eventually expected to become Tropical Storm Isaias.
The National Hurricane Center noted that the strongest winds are far north of the center position and the orientation of showers and storms is more elongated rather than a circle. This lowers the confidence in the forecast track significantly over the next five days since forecast models do poorly with an ill-defined storm.
While the disturbance is not organized into an area of low pressure, it is still producing tropical-storm-force winds of 45 mph. It is racing to the west-northwest at 23 mph as it is being steered by a strong ridge to the north of the system.
The low-confidence forecast for Nine shows the fast forward motion of the storm continuing for the next couple of days with the ridge remaining strong. That will somewhat impede the storm from strengthening too much.
Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine is forecast to move over or just south of Puerto Rico later Wednesday. Some intensification is possible from now through Thursday morning before moving near Hispaniola on Thursday.
Land interaction with the Caribbean Islands thereafter will help to keep the storm from rapidly intensifying. Nine is also still battling dry, dusty air ahead of the storm.
“This storm is facing a lot of dry air and this will slow any strengthening significantly,” Max Defender 8 Meteorologist Julie Phillips said. “We’ll keep a close eye on it, but right now it’s very unimpressive.”
By Friday, the area of high pressure is expected to weaken which will slow the storm down and allow it to turn more north. Nine could regain some strength moving through the Florida Straits, but there will be higher wind shear as it approaches Florida.
The latest models released at 5 p.m. ET have shifted back east, bringing the track more over the center of the Florida peninsula. The larger shifts in the track are expected until we get a center of circulation.
Again, the National Hurricane Center stresses the low confidence of the forecast in the near and long term. This is due to the lack of a well-defined center. If the storm organizes with the center of the storm farther north or south, that will change the track position significantly.
Regardless, residents in the Caribbean Islands, the Bahamas and Florida should monitor the progress of Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine closely more updates.
This system will likely bring heavy rain and at least a breezy weather conditions this weekend to Florida.
Tracking the Tropics is keeping you updated all hurricane season. We will be live every day at 2 p.m. ET this week with the latest on Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine.