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By Robert Connors
Managing Editor 

New Potential Tropical System Emerges in Distant Atlantic

Series: Weather | Story 13

Last updated 9/6/2023 at 10:36am

Courtesy National Hurricane Center

A tropical wave moving westward from the African coast, marked here in red, is rated as having a 90 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone over the next seven days. Its low-latitude track makes it a potential threat to the southeastern United States.

While multiple named storms have swirled harmlessly all week in the mid-Atlantic, a weak tropical wave that emerged off the coast of Africa several days ago is now the system to watch for Florida.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami is now assigning the system a near-100 percent chance of development during the coming three days, during which time it is forecast to be approaching the area of the Virgin Islands. By that time it should be a powerful Hurricane.

Despite still being thousands of miles from Florida, certain models are depicting the system tracking on a generally westward course, staying to the low latitudes. That movement is typical of the peak season when the fearsome African storms most often reach the Antilles and the southeastern US. Some recent model runs are conflicting, showing the storm turning northward just east of the Bahamas as a Major Category Three or stronger cyclone.

While the recent passage of Hurricane Idalia through the Gulf of Mexico left the Lake Wales region with beneficial rains, it caused devastation in the small towns of the Big Bend area of Florida, catching many residents unprepared. That region of Florida, where the peninsula meets the panhandle, had not been struck by a major Hurricane in over 100 years.

By contrast, the Lake Wales area has experienced several destructive hurricanes in the last 19 years.

Courtesy National Weather Service

A persistent rain band that lingered over east Polk and the Lake Wales Ridge area for more than 24 hours following the passage of Hurricane Idalia left widespread totals of five inches and more last week.

Although the Lake Wales area is sheltered from the most dangerous effects of the big cyclones, including the catastrophic storm surges, some storms have maintained their high winds as they penetrated into the interior of the state. Fast-moving Hurricane Charley arrived at Punta Gorda as a category four storm and lost little of that force before striking the Ridge only five hours later.

Residents are again reminded to have a Hurricane plan in place, including stocks of water, food, and emergency lighting. Most area residents are urged to shelter in place, but those residing in mobile homes or low-lying areas could be called upon to evacuate. There is only a single shelter serving the Lake Wales area, located at Spook Hill School. In the event of storm warnings, local officials will announce shelter openings and that news will be published in


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