Tropical Depression Nine forms, could hit Florida as Hurricane Hermine next week

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Tropical Depression Nine formed in the Caribbean on Friday with a path that could bring it to Florida next week as Hurricane Hermine.

In its 5 a.m. update, the National Hurricane Center said the storm is moving west-northwest at 13 mph. Experts expect it will move more westward over the next day or so before turning back west-northwest and then northwest over the weekend.

“The system already possessed a well-defined circulation for the last 12 to 18 hours, but it was only overnight that the ongoing convective activity was able to persist long enough near the center to be considered a tropical cyclone,” said NHC hurricane specialist Phillipe Papin.

Maximum sustained wind speeds are close to 35 mph with a higher gusts. There will be a slow intensification over the weekend projected to become Tropical Storm Hermine later today and grow into hurricane strength by Monday morning with its center south of Cuba near the Cayman Islands and Jamaica.

The five-day path has it hooking north by Tuesday over Cuba and then parked off Florida’s southwest coast as a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds and gusts of 130 mph by Wednesday morning.

“There is still a healthy amount of uncertainty in the track forecast at the day 4-5 timeframe,” Papin said.

There are no coastal watches or warnings at this time.

Tropical Depression Nine will likely drop heavy rainfall, flash flooding, and possible mudslides in Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, with heavy rains in Jamaican and the Cayman Islands coming in the next few days.

An Air Force Reserve Reconnaissance flight will investigate the system later this morning.

Already in Central Florida, which has seen a lot of rainfall of late, the Seminole County Office of Emergency Management has started its sandbag service and are preparing shelters in the event they’re needed. Shelter locations are not announced until the shelters are fully set up and staffed.

Elsewhere in the tropics, Hurricane Fiona has passed Bermuda and is now headed toward Canada while Tropical Storm Gaston has started to turn and is headed toward the Azores islands in the Atlantic.

The NHC is also tracking two more systems with the potential to form into the next tropical storm or depression.

The most likely is an area of low pressure with shower and thunderstorm activity located between the west coast of Africa and the Cabo Verde Islands showing signs of organization. The NHC said a tropical depression is likely to form while the system moves north at about 10 mph parallel to the African coast.

The NHC gives it an 80% chance to form in the next two to five days.

If it forms with sustained winds of 39 mph or more, it would take the name Tropical Storm Ian.

In the central tropical Atlantic is a broad area of low pressure several hundred miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands that continues to produce some disorganized thunderstorm activity. The NHC said some development is possible as it drifts northwestward or northward in the central Atlantic.

The NHC gives it a 20% chance to form in the next two days and 30% in the next five.

Hurricane Fiona has dropped in intensity from Category 4 to Category 3 with 125 mph sustained winds as it speeds north toward the coast of Nova Scotia.

As of 8 a.m. its center was located about 125 miles north of Bermuda, which is no longer under a hurricane warning, but still a tropical storm warning. It’s moving north-northeast at 25 mph projected to make landfall later today a large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds, then, move across Nova Scotia and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Saturday, and then across Labrador and over the Labrador Sea on Sunday.

The system’s wind field is expanding as it migrates moves out of the tropics with hurricane-force winds extending out 115 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extending out 345 miles.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre has issues hurricane warnings for parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Isle-de-la-Madeleine and parts of Newfoundland with tropical storm warnings for parts of New Brunswick, Quebec, Anticosti Island and other areas of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

While not a threat to Florida, the swells from Fiona are still causing surf and boating issues, with strong rip current conditions on the U.S. East Coast including Florida as well as the Bahamas.

As of 8 a.m., Tropical Storm Gaston also dropped in strength slightly now with sustained winds of 60 mph as its center was located about 135 miles north-northwest of Faial Island in the Central Azores moving east-southeast at 7 mph.

“A slower southeastward motion is forecast today followed by a southward, and then southwestward, motion tonight and early Saturday. On the forecast track, the center of Gaston will move near or over portions of the Azores today through early Saturday,” NHC forecasters said.

The system’s tropical-storm-force winds extend out 115 miles, but it’s expected to become post-tropical by Saturday as it moves back west in the Atlantic.

Since Sept. 1, the tropics have begun to play catchup churning out four named storms in three weeks after nearly two months of quiet.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in early August updated its season prediction that 2022 would still be above-average with 14 to 21 named storms, although not a single named storm formed in the month of August.

The 2020 hurricane season set a record with 30 named systems, while 2021′s season was the third most active with 21 named systems. An average year calls for 14 named storms.

Through Gaston, 2022 has produced seven named systems.

Sun-Sentinel staff writers contributed to this report.