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Tropical threats may pose hazards to western Caribbean to Florida well into October


Waters surrounding Central America, Cuba, the Bahamas, Mexico and the southeastern United States bear watching for tropical systems well into October.

While tropical threats originating from the coast of Africa that spawned hurricanes like Harvey, Irma and Maria will diminish in the coming weeks, the threat for near-coast tropical formation will increase.

Multiple factors will be in place that may favor several tropical systems to come about into the middle of October.

A zone of high pressure will extend from the southern Plains to off the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts.

A high pressure area represents a large batch of dry air that rotates clockwise. South of this high pressure zone, the air will remain moist, but east to northeasterly winds will develop.

Static SW Atlantic Basin Tropical Setup


As the east to northeasterly winds strengthen, they will help gradually add spin to the zone of moisture from the western Caribbean and the southern Gulf of Mexico to the southwestern Atlantic in the coming days.

An almost immediate and direct effect of the east to northeast winds will be to create rough surf, heavy seas and strong rip currents. Beach erosion will then ramp up along the east-facing shoreline, especially the southeastern U.S. coast and east-facing beaches of the Bahamas.

Early on, an area of disturbed weather may slowly take on tropical characteristics and meander near Florida. Its main role will be to enhance rainfall. It is not likely to develop into a strong hurricane rapidly.

Irma flooding - AP

Rescue workers, left, search a neighborhood for flood victims as a man on a kayak down the street after Hurricane Irma brought floodwaters to Jacksonville, Fla. Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/John Raoux)


"A much larger part of the atmosphere is likely to begin to spin near Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba over the next couple of weeks," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey.

This large zone of spinning air, or vortex, may then give birth to smaller spin-off storms.

These spin-offs may stay over water and diminish or strengthen prior to drifting onto land in the United States, Mexico, Central America or some of the islands in the western Caribbean as October progresses.

While most of these storms will tend to be on the lower end of the scale, such as tropical depressions or tropical storms, it is possible for one or more to develop into a hurricane despite close proximity to land.

While the strength of disruptive winds aloft will fluctuate over the next several weeks, there will be many episodes when these winds are light and will not inhibit tropical storm formation, according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

"We expect the risk of tropical storms and hurricanes to continue through much of the autumn this year, since we believe disruptive winds aloft will be weak or largely absent in the southwestern part of the Atlantic basin that includes much of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico," Pastelok said.

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Waters over much of the region are very warm and likely to stay warm for many weeks.

The warm waters are well above the threshold to develop, sustain and enhance a tropical system should it catch hold.

Following Maria, AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski expects four more named tropical storms, of which three more hurricanes are possible, including one more Category 3 hurricane or stronger into December.