Weather system heading toward Florida strengthens but is not likely to become Tropical Storm Chantal
FLORIDA — A weather system traveling toward Florida has developed into a tropical depression faster than expected, but it’s not likely to gain enough strength to be a named storm.
A tropical storm is a cyclone — a low-pressure system with organized movement of hot winds circulating around a well-defined core — that has maximum sustained winds ranging from 39 to 73 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.
Earlier Monday, the National Hurricane Center said the disturbance had a 60% chance of developing into a tropical depression or storm by Wednesday. A depression has sustained winds of less than 39 miles an hour.
If the depression matures, Chantal would be the third named Atlantic storm of 2019.
Time is an issue here, according to national storm experts.
This depression has just 24 hours or so to ripen into a full-fledged tropical storm. After that, conditions will no longer be favorable for its development, meteorologists say.
The same cold front that has begun to bring relief from the heat on the US East Coast is what could kill this system before it becomes a mighty storm. The front might steer the system, which is moving through the northern Bahamas parallel to the Florida coast, out to sea.
Even if Chantal doesn’t mature, the cold front will bring widespread rainfall and thunderstorms to the Southeast United States on Tuesday, the National Weather Service predicts.
The area of low pressure was near Andros Island in the Bahamas as of Monday afternoon. Showers and thunderstorms have increased regionally in association with this system. Portions of the northwest Bahamas are expected to experience heavy rainfall and gusty winds through Monday night.
The entire low-pressure system is expected to move northwest about 15 mph Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
When first detected on Sunday afternoon, the system had just a 20% chance of maturing into a tropical storm. By Monday afternoon, the risk had tripled.