Tropical Storms Warnings and Watches have been issued for parts of Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas as all eyes are focused on the Potential Tropical Cyclone One in the southern Gulf of Mexico.
As of Friday morning, the ragged system did not have a center of circulation and has not been upgraded by the National Hurricane Center to a tropical storm, but meteorologists warn that does not mean that there won't be impacts felt in the Sunshine State.
The Florida Peninsula and the Keys saw rain and gusty winds overnight and forecast models show the intensity will continue to increase throughout the day.
A Tropical Storm Warning means winds of at least 40 mph are expected in the alerted area within 36 hours and a watch means tropical storms conditions are possible within 48 hours.
The Southwest Florida coast and the Keys are under a warning and the state's southeast coast, northern Bahamas and western Cuba are under a watch.
On the forecast track, Potential Tropical Cyclone One is expected to strengthen into Tropical Storm Alex before landfall on Saturday in Southwest Florida.
Once the system's sustained winds reach 40 mph or higher and gains a true center of circulation, it will become a tropical storm and receive the name "Alex," the first name on this year's list of storm names for the Atlantic Basin.
Scattered downpours are expected to increase in intensity on Friday as winds gust to or near tropical-storm force (40-plus mph), and continue into Saturday.
By late Saturday, winds might still be gusty, but dry air on the back side of the system should arrive and cause the rain to gradually diminish.
The weather should significantly improve Saturday night and into Sunday as the system moves offshore into the southwestern Atlantic.
The NHC says several inches of rain are expected across South Florida, including the Miami metro area. It's not out of the question that some locations could receive close to a foot of rainfall.
It's still uncertain how far north the heavy-rain swath will extend. Until the system gets more organized and forecasts become more certain, people along the Interstate 4 corridor from Tampa to Orlando need to stay aware.
Regardless of the system's exact track, the likelihood of heavy rain in South Florida is high.
The ground in many parts of South Florida is saturated from days of heavy rain, so stay aware of any flood alerts issued by the National Weather Service. Some fast-developing tornadoes sometimes occur in these situations as well.
It may very well be dangerous to be on the roads in the southern part of Florida from Friday into the daytime on Saturday. Think about changing your plans so that you’re settled in during the gustiest and rainiest part of the storm.
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