Tropical Depression Nine is raggedly formed in the eastern Caribbean Friday evening but it continues to have high potential to become a much-stronger storm in the days ahead.
The depression Friday afternoon was about 400 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, moving to the west-northwest at 14 mph.
The system has peak wind speeds of 35 mph.
Tropical Depression Nine is projected to reach tropical storm-level strength within 24 hours as to moves west to west-northwest. A front entering the Florida/Georgia line region next Monday or Tuesday will play a role in the system's eventual turn to the north and northeast, one of the primary factors behind the current shape of the forecast cone.
The forecast cone considers a wider margin or error in the day four to five forecast period, meaning the center of the cyclone can be located anywhere within that cone. The cone does cover Apalachee Bay, the immediate Big Bend coast, and parts of our Suwannee River and northern Nature Coast regions.
Obviously this track will deviate as there are still many variables to consider impacting this storms trajectory over the next several days.
Keep in mind some of our viewing area is still in that 'cone of uncertainty', so while it is best not to panic, being prepared for tropical storms and hurricanes is always a good idea this time of year.
If this storm stays on its current path (even though unlikely), southern Big Bend and Suwannee River counties will receive heavy rain and gusty wind at times. Local storm effects are challenging to pinpoint at this phase, and can range dramatically from sunshine and dry air in the western half of the region to tropical storm conditions farther east. The forecast trends over the weekend will give better clues for specific storm expectations for the Big Bend and southern Georgia.
Rip Currents will also be strong starting next week for most Big Bend coastlines.
A look at the 11 AM Advisory NHC trajectory and strengthening:
Tropical Depression Nine forms in the Central Caribbean Friday morning.
Strengthen and convection has increased and former Invest 98-L has now been upgraded to a Tropical Depression.
Further strengthening is expected as this organized storm moves out of areas of higher shear (upper level winds) and into warmer waters.
As this happens, Tropical Depression Nine is expected to strengthen into a Tropical Storm by Friday afternoon.
Further strengthening is forecast by the latest track issued by the National Hurricane Center as of the Friday 5 AM Advisory.
When it comes to possible effects to the Big Bend region, the future storm's forecast movement generally provides a better-case scenario. A track more focused on the peninsula would place the Big Bend/southern Georgia region on the side of the storm that would cause a northerly wind pattern, creating a drier air flow for the tri-state area and limiting rain and potential squally conditions to the Suwannee River valley.
There will still be various shifts and tweaks in the system's forecast path between now and early next week, and it's worth noting that the eastern Big Bend/Suwannee River areas may still be covered by the forecast cone at different points in the forecast. A chance for future tropical-related weather advisories exists for the eastern side of our northern Florida counties next week.