Hurricane forecasters are monitoring two tropical systems that could impact weather across the Tampa Bay area in the next few days.
On Monday afternoon, Tropical Storm Bret formed in the Atlantic and another system in the Gulf of Mexico seemed on the verge of tropical status, earning the designation Potential Tropical Cyclone Three.
As of Tuesday at 5 a.m., the potential cyclone was located about 305 miles south-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 345 miles south-southeast of Morgan City, La. It is moving northwest at 8 mph and has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.
The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm warning for the eastern half of the Louisiana coast, from Intracoastal City to the mouth of the Pearl River, which borders Mississippi. The warning area includes New Orleans. A tropical storm watch is in effect from Louisiana to High Island, Texas.
Forecasters expect the system to become Tropical Storm Cindy on Tuesday, turning north and approaching the Louisiana coast Wednesday night.
Forecasters say the system could produce 4-8 inches of rain, and up to 10 inches, over southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle through Thursday morning. It also could spawn tornadoes and result in a storm surge of 1-3 feet along the warning area.
The two storms pose little to no direct threat to Tampa Bay or southwest Florida, forecasters said.
“Severe weather is not expected,” 10Weather WTSP meteorologist Grant Gilmore said. “But some heavy downpours and lightning are possible along with gusty winds, at times.”
Stacy Stewart, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, called the prospect of two tropical cyclones in June “unprecedented.”
“That’s extremely unusual, given that we usually average one named storm in the month of June every two to three years,” Stewart said.
Neither system was expected to bring a direct hit to Florida, but at least with the Gulf storm, the Keys and mainland Florida could expect rain over the next day or two from its peripheral bands.
Conditions aren’t favorable to spawn a hurricane but parts of the Gulf Coast can expect heavy rain.
Tropical Storm Bret was expected to move westward through the Caribbean Sea before being torn apart by winds, Stewart said. The storm is moving along South America’s northern coast. Its maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph (64 kph) with weakening expected to begin later in the day.
For weather nerds, Bret is historic because before it was given that name, it was “Potential Tropical Cyclone Two.” Until Sunday, no tropical system had ever been officially referred to as a potential system with its own advisories.
Prior to this year, the hurricane center would issue advisories when a storm formed.
In an effort to emphasize to people that a storm is brewing and could be headed their way, the hurricane center began releasing the potential alerts with the hope that residents in a likely storm zone would start preparations earlier.
Asked if this unusually active June is a harbinger of a busy hurricane season to come, Stewart said it was hard to say, because there wasn’t much in the way of similar Junes to compare.
But, he added, it did seem to confirm, at least for now, NOAA’s prediction that 2017 would see a busier than average Atlantic hurricane season.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.