A tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico is being closely monitored by forecasters while it brings heavy rain and gusty winds to Florida this week.
The National Hurricane Center has dubbed the disturbance Invest 91L. An invest is simply a designation used by the NHC to identify an area of weather that is being investigated for possible tropical development.
According to the NHC, the disturbance in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico has a low chance of development – 20% within two days and 20% within seven days.
The Hurricane Hunters said Wednesday they plan to begin flying into the storm on Thursday, with the first mission scheduled to depart at 1:45 p.m. EDT. A second mission is scheduled to take off at 6:15 a.m. EDT Friday.
Regardless of how this system develops, Florida will get plenty of rain and wind as a result. Upwards of 5 inches of rain are possible across parts of the Florida Peninsula by the weekend.
The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins Thursday.
The Gulf of Mexico, northwestern Caribbean Sea and western Atlantic are the climatologically favored regions for tropical development in early June.
The FOX Forecast Center said due to marginal atmospheric conditions, tropical cyclones usually never reach hurricane status and remain either a tropical depression or tropical storm during their lifecycle.
The last named storm to make landfall during June along Florida’s west coast was Tropical Storm Colin in 2016.
The first named storm typically forms around June 20, according to NHC data.
The highest rainfall amounts are expected to fall across portions of Central and South Florida from the Tampa and Orlando areas south through Melbourne, Fort Pierce, West Palm Beach and Miami.
Through Wednesday, the Tampa and Sarasota areas can expect between 1 and 2 inches of rain from any storms that develop during the day.
Later this week and into the weekend, higher rain totals are expected across the southern half of the state. Most of Central and South Florida will see upwards of 2-3 inches of rain, but many areas could see even higher totals.
Areas like Tampa and Sarasota on the western side of the state, as well as West Palm Beach, Miami and Homestead in South Florida, could see 3-5 inches of rain through Saturday, with some spots seeing locally higher amounts.
With the copious amounts of rain expected starting Wednesday, the Sunshine State will be facing a flash flood threat through at least Sunday.
Flash flooding will be possible across the southern half of the state from Tampa and Melbourne south through Naples and Miami.
Starting Thursday, the flash flood threat will expand to include areas farther north, including the Orlando and Daytona Beach areas.
Recent rain in Florida has helped to reduce some of the drought conditions in the state, but most of the rain has been centered across southwestern areas, while areas on the Sunshine State’s west coast are still extremely dry.
“I mean, look at Tampa, Sarasota, the St. Petersburg area,” FOX Weather meteorologist Jason Frazer said, noting the extensive drought in the region. “You are on a Category 4 out of 5 (drought). And whenever we talk about a Category 4 out of 5 here, I mean, we’re talking about some of the worst here.”
Frazer said Tampa needs about 2-3 inches of additional rain to ease a lot of the drought conditions in that area.