KIMBERLY MILLER | PALM BEACH POST
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PALM BEACH, Fla. — An area of disheveled showers and thunderstorms south of Cuba on Friday was given a 60% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone over the next five days as it ambles north over western Cuba and into the Gulf of Mexico.
If it develops, it could become Tropical Storm Zeta and could bring more rain to South Florida.
Early Friday, the bowl of low pressure was becoming “much better” organized and its path changed significantly, National Hurricane Center meteorologists said. The system was previously expected to travel northeast over South Florida or the Florida Straits. Now it is headed more north toward western Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico.
Invest 95L (bottom left) and Hurricane Epsilon.
In the short term, the National Weather Service in Miami is forecasting less rain Friday, but an increase on Saturday and Sunday with deteriorating marine conditions as ripples from Hurricane Epsilon reach the coast.
“It’s a bit touch-and-go on the exact precipitation chances,” said NWS meteorologist Paxton Fell. “It’s all depending on that system in the Caribbean.”
Fell said if the clot of storminess takes a southerly track, it could mean a rain reprieve. If it tracks closer to Florida, it could mean widespread rainfall of 3 to 6 inches.
Areas of coastal Palm Beach County already received nearly 5 inches of rain Monday through midday Thursday with flood advisories cycling on and off through the day.
“Right now, we just need to be ready for a return of extra-moist tropical air over the weekend,” said Miami-based meteorologist Bryan Norcross in his Hurricane Intel blog. “The odds are somewhat lower in … points north, but the line between fairly dry and quite wet will likely be sharp and it can’t be pinned down yet.”
Norcross said Hurricane Epsilon, which raced to Category 3 status Wednesday before deflating to a Category 1 Friday, will eat away at the eastern edge of high pressure over the mid-Atlantic, which has been blowing wet winds over South Florida this week.
At the same time, a dip in the jet stream will scoop up the area of low pressure and carry it northeast.
Rainfall forecast Thursday through Sunday 8 a.m.
AccuWeather meteorologists downplayed the potential for tropical development of the disturbance on Thursday.
“There have been strong winds aloft and some dry air that just disrupted any type of organizing of the system,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Paul Walker. “Right now, the area is so broad and general, it’s hard to say it’s moving anywhere.”
Norcross said once the low pressure in the Caribbean passes Florida on Monday, “much drier air” is expected.
“Whether this is the beginning of the fall season, is still an open question,” he said.
Follow Kimberly Miller on Twitter: @Kmillerweather.
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