ORLANDO, Fla. — The National Hurricane Center remains vigilant tracking a system has formed off Florida’s east coast with little chance to become a tropical or subtropical depression or storm, but still serving up coastal threats starting Friday.
In its 8 a.m. tropical outlook, the NHC said the broad non-tropical area of low pressure just off Florida’s northeast coast in the Atlantic was mixing with a frontal boundary off the southeastern U.S. coast that continues to produce the same showers and thunderstorms that have been lashing Florida for the week.
“The low is unlikely to become a subtropical or tropical cyclone since it is forecast to remain frontal while moving generally northward and inland over the Carolinas late Saturday or Sunday,” NHC forecasters said.
The outlook gives the system only a 10% chance to become tropical or subtropical in the next two days, but forecasters warn it will still produce high winds, dangerous surf and rip currents along the U.S. coast for Florida up to Virginia.
“Heavy rainfall is expected in portions of the Carolinas and Virginia during the next few days. Hazardous marine conditions are also expected over the coastal and offshore waters where gale and storm warnings are in effect,” forecasters said.
The National Weather Service in Melbourne will issue a high surf advisory beginning at 2 p.m. Friday north of Cape Canaveral that will last into Saturday morning with large breaking waves of 7 to 9 feet expected along with a high rip current risk.
“High surf will affect the beaches in the advisory area, producing localized beach erosion and dangerous swimming conditions,” the NWS advisory said. “Swimmers should remain out of the water due to large breaking waves and dangerous surf conditions. Rip currents can sweep even the best swimmers away from shore into deeper water.”
Volusia County beaches already have endured serious damage from both Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole in 2022.
The NWS said a gale warning is set to go into effect Friday afternoon off Volusia County’s coast “where the strongest winds are expected with frequent gusts to gale force.”
Also, both Brevard and Volusia counties will be under a wind advisory beginning Friday afternoon extending into the late evening with gusts up to 45 mph possible, the NWS stated.
A small craft advisory will also go into effect beginning Friday afternoon across Brevard County down into the Treasure Coast with seas expected to build offshore to 10-15 feet. That advisory will remain in effect through at least 4 p.m. Saturday, but could be extended.
Seas will remain hazardous on Saturday with nearshore waves of 6-8 feet and offshore waters from 8-12 feet.
Florida will see calmer skies and oceans on Sunday and Monday.
The official start of the Atlantic hurricane season isn’t until June 1, and runs for six months through Nov. 30, but early storm formation has become the norm in the last two decades. In fact, the NHC analyzed data from earlier in the year noting the Atlantic already had a subtropical storm in January.
That means the next tracked system will become Tropical or Subtropical Depression Two, and if it were to form into a tropical or subtropical storm, would take the name Arlene.
On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its preseason predictions stating it expects average hurricane activity in the Atlantic.
The NOAA outlook predicts between 12 and 17 named storms, with between five and nine becoming hurricanes. Of those, one to four are expected to be Category 3 strength or higher. The NOAA deems as average over the past three decades of 14 named storms, of which seven are hurricanes and three are major ones.
This is similar to predictions from Colorado State University and AccuWeather forecasts that came out earlier this year, which expects the effects of a growing El Niño effect will tamp down hurricane production in the Atlantic in the latter half of the hurricane season.