Rainstorms Over Bahamas Watched as Possible U.S. Threat

By Brian K. Sullivan | September 12, 2019

Within five days, heavy rains now hitting the Bahamas where Hurricane Dorian struck could become a dangerous tropical system over Florida, and possibly the Gulf of Mexico. The odds were 50-50 a couple of days ago; now they’re at 80%.

Welcome to the game of atmospheric chess watched by the world’s weather forecasters. The rainstorms will likely change from a blob on the map to a tropical depression over the weekend as it moves at 5 to 10 miles per hour toward Florida, the National Hurricane Center said at 8 a.m. New York time. Some models keep it on the East Coast, others show it entering the Gulf.

Heavy rain and gusty winds will stay over the Bahamas through Friday, especially in the northwest devastated by Dorian, the center reported. Florida will get the rains on the weekend. But where exactly the system ends up in the next week is anybody’s guess.

“Right now we don’t know which of those is going to take place,” said Ryan Truchelut, the president of Weather Tiger LLC, referring to the east coast of Florida and the Gulf. “The models are going to be volatile.”

Wind shear in the region has tipped the storm in a way that opens different possibilities for the path as it moves forward, according to Truchelut, whose firm is in Tallahassee, Florida. Only limited development of the storm is expected during the day Thursday, according to the hurricane center,

If the disturbance gets better organized and gains strength, it will be called Humberto, becoming the eighth storm named across the Atlantic in a season that’s been slightly more active than the average.

The U.S. has been hit by two hurricanes this year: Barry in July, and the just-exited Dorian that clawed a path of destruction from the Bahamas, to the U.S. East Coast and then deep into Canada. The Bahamas are still grappling to recover from Dorian, which stalled over the island nation as a Category 5 hurricane with 180-mph winds that left at least 50 dead and devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama islands.

On Wednesday, the health minister for the Bahamas, Duane Sands, said teams of dog handlers from the U.S., Canada and Belgium are uncovering more and more dead bodies among the debris. In a nation where 80% of the land is less than 32 feet (10 meters) above sea level, people were confronted by “20 feet of ocean in their backyard,” Sands said.

It’s hard to say just how strong the latest developing storm may become, said Dan Kottlowski, lead hurricane forecaster at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

The Gulf waters are quite warm, and last year, Micheal was able to grow from a potential storm on a Saturday to a major hurricane by Tuesday. Anyone making a guess as to the possible strength now “is very delusional,” Kottlowski said.

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