RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The area of disturbed weather near the Bahamas is now Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine. This name is a designation given by the National Hurricane Center for systems with a high likelihood of becoming a depression or tropical storm.
As of 11 p.m. Thursday, maximum sustained winds are near 30 mph. A hurricane hunter aircraft investigated the system Monday night, but they were unable to find a definitive closed center of circulation. The disturbance is forecast to become better organized and a tropical depression or a tropical storm is expected to form in the next 24 to 48 hours.
The system is expected to move toward the northwest around 8 mph. This direction and speed is forecast to continue during the next two days. On this track, the system is anticipated to move across the Bahamas on Friday and along or over the east coast of Florida on Saturday.
While TPC #9 is in a similar location to Hurricane Dorian, it is nothing like the massive hurricane and will not become anything close to it. It is very possible this system doesn’t even become a hurricane. The most likely scenario at this point is for North Carolina to get some kind of rain impact next week.
The official track and the computer models bring the system toward Florida this weekend and then there is a lot of uncertainty of what will happen after that. This type of uncertainty is common when system first form, so there will be more clarity in the coming days. The fact that the system is going to move very slow no matter where it goes gives us plenty up time in North Carolina to figure things out.
The European forecast model is run dozens of times with slightly different conditions to give us a range of possibilities and hopefully a sense of the most likely scenario. The ensemble shows a 90% chance that the system becomes a tropical storm over the weekend, still off the east coast of Florida.
From there, the various ensemble members mostly keep the system on the Atlantic side of the Florida peninsula, and move it north. Sound familiar? The “spaghettios” animation shows each ensemble’s estimate of where it will go.
That’s a wide range of possibilities, but we’re obviously going to have to keep a very close eye on this system. If you want the worst-case scenario, the ensemble shows a 20% chance there’s a hurricane off the coast of the Carolinas by the middle of next week.
To be clear, that is not the most likely scenario at this point. A 20% chance of that worst-case scenario gives us an 80% chance of anything else.
What about the other model data? The UK forecast model is statistically the second-best in the world (behind the European) and it’s pretty much on the same page.
Canadian model? Same deal.
The American GFS model is holding onto hope, keeping the system weak, tracking it into the Gulf, then pushing it onshore as nothing more than a big glob of rain.
The problem is, the GFS is statistically inferior to the other global models, even after (some would say especially after) its “upgrade” earlier this year.
Should you be worried about this potential tropical system? No. Will meteorologists be following it? Heck yeah. So will the National Hurricane Center — they’ll start issuing “potential tropical cyclone” advisories later today.
Farther out in the Atlantic, there’s another area of disturbed weather that has close to a 50-50 chance of becoming a tropical depression over the next five days as it tracks to the west.
It’s about a week away from potentially moving into the Caribbean, so we’ve got plenty of time to monitor this one.
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