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Tropics Watch: Disturbance Off Florida Coast

Could this be the first 2024 system to take aim at the east coast?

United States Air Force (USAF) reconnaissance planes are currently investigating a cluster of showers and thunderstorms off the coast of Florida which could develop into a tropical system over the next two days.

The storm cluster – located approximately 150 miles east-southeast of Jacksonville, Florida – has a 50 percent chance to develop into a tropical depression over the next 48 hours, according to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Florida.

The USAF plane “is currently investigating the system to determine if the low has a well-defined surface circulation,” NHC forecasters noted in an initial dispatch on the system.

“Environmental conditions remain marginally conducive for some additional development, and this system could become a short-lived tropical depression as the low moves west-northwestward at 10 to 15 miles per hour,” the NHC dispatch added. “The system is expected to reach the coast of northeastern Florida or Georgia by tonight, and interests there should monitor its progress.”

Follow-up reports should be available later Friday (June 21, 2024) …

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This is projected to be an extremely busy year in the Atlantic basin, with experts predicting a  “blockbuster” and “super-charged” 2024 hurricane season.

Driving that projection? The delicate interplay between El Niño and La Niña. For those of you unhip to global climate patterns, El Niño refers to the periodic warming of the central and eastern equatorial regions of the Pacific Ocean – while La Niña refers to the cooling of the Pacific that takes place in its aftermath.

What does water temperature in the Pacific have to do with the formation of storms in the Atlantic tropical basin?

A lot, actually.

During El Niño years, hurricanes are less likely to form in the Atlantic due to increased vertical wind shear – or changes in wind speed and direction between 5,000 and 35,000 feet. Vertical wind shear essentially breaks apart developing hurricanes – often preventing them from forming altogether. During La Niña, the potential for hurricane formation and rapid intensification is much stronger due to reduced vertical wind shear. Basically, calmer conditions make it easier for storms to form – and intensify rapidly.

So far, only one system – Tropical Storm Alberto – has developed during the season. Alberto made landfall in Mexico earlier this week with maximum sustained winds of only 45 miles per hour – however the system dropped a ton of rainfall in Texas and prompted emergency declarations in more than fifty Lone Star State counties.

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RELATED | AS IF 2024 WASN’T SUFFICIENTLY INSANE

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According to the most recent comprehensive hurricane survey (.pdf) from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), South Carolina has seen 44 tropical cyclones make landfall along its coastline since 1851 – none in 2023, thankfully. Of those systems, only four (4) made landfall as major hurricanes: The 1893 Sea Islands HurricaneHurricane Hazel in 1954, Hurricane Gracie in 1959, and Hurricane Hugo in 1989. No category five hurricanes have ever hit the Palmetto State’s 187-mile coastline.

The Palmetto State was nearly hit in 2020 by Hurricane Isaias (or, as governor Henry McMaster called it, Hurricane “Icy Isis”). Other recent close calls included Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and Hurricane Irene in 2011.

Hurricane Ian was the last storm to strike the Palmetto State – making landfall just south of Georgetown as a category one system on September 30, 2022.

Courtesy of our inimitably intrepid research director Jenn Wood, here is a look at the latest tropical trends …

Count on this media outlet to keep our audience apprised as to any significant new developments emanating from the tropics.

Also, count on this reporter to keep an especially close eye on the current system from his vantage point in North Litchfield, S.C. over the coming week …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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2 comments

Avatar photo
The Colonel Top fan June 21, 2024 at 10:54 am

Might want to keep this one on the play list

Squalls out on the gulf stream
Big storms comin’ soon
Passed out in my hammock
God I slept ’til way past noon
Stood up and tried to focus
I hoped I wouldn’t have to look far
I knew I could use a bloody Mary
So I stumbled next door to the bar

Reply
River Top fan June 21, 2024 at 9:57 pm

Gov. McMaster delivering his evacuation order…

I declare a mandatory evacuation for Challston, Callton, Doechesta, and Boofurt counties.

I think our Gov is awesome btw.

Reply

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