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Tropical system could be headed for Florida, Gulf Coast

A tropical disturbance in the Caribbean has an 80 percent chance of becoming a named storm within five days, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center said Wednesday, and the storm could have Florida and the Gulf Coast in its sights.


Models released by the NHC show the storm — currently designated Invest 99L — headed toward South Florida, with the potential to cross over the state into the Gulf of Mexico. The storm, which the NHC described as a “strong tropical wave” is currently moving westward over the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico.


“Reports from an Air Force Reconnaissance aircraft and surface observations indicate that the system still lacks a well-defined circulation, but it nevertheless is producing tropical-storm-force winds in squalls over the northernmost Leeward Islands and adjacent waters,” the NHC reported in a dispatch released Wednesday afternoon, though officials cautioned that it was “too early to speculate” about any potential impact on Florida or beyond.

If the disturbance continues to intensify, it would become the eighth named storm of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, designated Hermine.

Another storm in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Gaston, is expected to develop into a hurricane, but current models show the storm heading north and officials don’t expect it to pose a threat to land.