(WGHP) — A storm system, expected to become Tropical Storm Alex, the first named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, is barrelling toward Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of 11 a.m. Friday, the NHC reports the system is about 430 miles southwest of Fort Myers, Florida, and moving to the northeast, in the direction of Fort Myers, at about 5 mph. Maximum sustained winds clocked in at 40 mph.
Forecasters believe the system will become a tropical storm later on Friday and could build power as it moves across the southwestern Gulf of Mexico through Friday night and begins making its way across the southern and central parts of the Floridian Peninsula on Saturday.
The National Hurricane Center says there is a 90% chance it becomes a tropical storm within the next 48 hours.
As the system approaches Florida, western Cuba is bracing for heavy rain and could face “life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides,” according to the Hurricane Center.
Central and South Florida, as well as the Florida keys, are expecting heavy rain Friday through Saturday. The Hurricane Center warns that “considerable flash and urban flood is possible.”
The northwestern Bahamas could also face flash and urban flooding.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:
* Florida Keys including the Dry Tortugas
* Florida Bay
* West coast of Florida south of the Middle of Longboat Key to Card Sound Bridge
* East coast of Florida south of the Volusia/Brevard County Line to Card Sound Bridge
* Lake Okeechobee
* Cuban provinces of Pinar del Rio, Artemisa, La Habana, and Mayabeque
* Northwestern Bahamas
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:
* Cuban provinces of Matanzas and the Isle of Youth
A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible somewhere within the watch area within 48 hours.
What happened to Agatha?
If you’re wondering why you may have heard the name Hurricane Agatha and are confused about why you’re now hearing about another A-named storm, the answer is simple. There are separate lists of names for storms that form in the Pacific Ocean and storms that form in the Atlantic Ocean.
Hurricane Agatha formed in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, making it the first named storm of the Pacific Hurricane Season, before making landfall in southern Mexico on Monday as a Category 2 hurricane. Agatha killed 9 people with another 4 missing as of Thursday. People were swept away and some were buried under mud and rocks, according to Oaxaca Gov. Alejandro Murat.
The remnants of Agatha crossed Mexico, losing strength and turning into a disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s that disturbance that is likely to soon become Tropical Storm Alex, the first named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.