Potential tropical system forecast to steer clear of Tampa Bay

Potential tropical system forecast to steer clear of Tampa Bay

Potential tropical system forecast to steer clear of Tampa Bay

The system doesn't have a defined center of circulation but it could bring tropical storm conditions to Cuba and the Bahamas, according to the National Hurricane Center. It could become a tropical storm in the meantime, in which case it would be named Philippe. Rainfall amounts could reach above 5 inches across parts of South Florida and around 1.5 in the southern tier of Central Florida.

Gusty northwest winds are expected Sunday, with seas building offshore and rip currents possible from Tarpon Spring to Bonita Springs.

Previous story: A persistent area of showers and thunderstorms between Jamaica and northeast Honduras became better organized overnight, leading the National Hurricane Center to increase its chances for tropical development to 60 percent.

In the near-term, this area of low pressure will contribute to a heavy rain threat over the Cayman Islands and portions of Cuba into Saturday. "As this weekend's cold front passes over the Gulf Coast, we don't expect any tropical issues locally".

The system has a 40 percent chance of developing into at least a tropical depression within five days.

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The window of opportunity for this cluster of storms to get its act together is narrow - it can't be too close to land like it is now, and it has to beat the approaching cold front and associated strong vertical wind shear.

A tropical depression or storm is now likely to form in the Western Caribbean over the next 24 hours and race toward South Florida.

Residents in the Cayman Islands and in central and western Cuba should monitor the development of the disturbance.

Friday afternoon, a Hurricane Hunter plane probing the weather system discovered winds near 40 miles per hour but no defined center.

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