The US National Hurricane Center is poised to name the first tropical or subtropical storm on Saturday, heralding an early start to the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
However, National Weather Service Director General John Tibbetts said on Friday that the forecast path of the system takes it away from the Cayman Islands.
“There is no forecast impact on our weather given its distance and the forecast away from us. The Cayman Islands National Weather Service will continue to monitor the system,” he said in an emailed response to queries from the Cayman Compass.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm, if it develops as projected, will be named Arthur and is moving near the northwestern Bahamas.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on 1 June, but local meteorologists say it is not unusual for the season to start early.
In fact, Tibbetts said, the “new norm, compliments of climate change, has produced a number of tropical systems forming in the month of May each year”.
He said Cayman can expect minimal rainfall from the weather disturbance “as satellites and radar readings show cloud and rainfall associated with the system extends north of the center”.
According to the National Hurricane Center’s special tropical weather outlook issued Friday morning, the trough of low pressure is located over the Straits of Florida and continues to produce disorganised shower activity and gusty winds across the Florida Keys, portions of southeast Florida, and the northwestern Bahamas.
“Gradual development of this system is expected, and it will likely become a tropical or subtropical storm on Saturday when it is located near the northwestern Bahamas. Later in the weekend and early next week, the system is expected to move generally northeastward over the western Atlantic,” it stated.
The NHC has listed the chances of formation through 48 hours as high, pegging it at 80%. also projecting an 80% likelihood of formation through the next five days was also made.
In its outlook, the NHC said, regardless of development, the disturbance will continue to bring heavy rainfall to portions of the Florida Keys, southeast Florida and the Bahamas through Saturday.
“Tropical-storm-force wind gusts are also possible across portions of the Florida Keys, southeast Florida, and the Bahamas during the next day or so. In addition, hazardous marine conditions are expected along the Florida east coast and in the Bahamas where gale warnings are in effect,” it added.
An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft was scheduled to investigate the system Friday, but it was cancelled.
“An aircraft is scheduled to investigate the disturbance [Saturday], if necessary,” the NHC said.
Another update is expected later on Friday afternoon.