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The first Hurricane of the 2018 Season appears ready to blast its way into the public consciousness, with the Florida Panhandle, southern coast of Alabama and Mississippi in the cross hairs with 72 Hours from the time stamp on THIS story!

According to the National Hurricane Center, a broad surface low drifting slowly northward over the eastern Yucatan Peninsula continues to become better defined.

Although showers and thunderstorms, along with strong gusty winds, remain primarily over the adjacent waters of the northwestern Caribbean Sea, environmental conditions are forecast to become more conducive for development through early next week, and a subtropical or tropical depression is likely to form by late Saturday over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the disturbance Friday afternoon, if necessary. Locally heavy rainfall is forecast across
western Cuba and over much of Florida and the northern Gulf Coast into early next week. In addition, the threat of rip currents will steadily increase along the Gulf coast from Florida westward to Louisiana over the Memorial Day weekend.

For more information on these threats, please see products issued by your local weather office.

The next Special Tropical Weather Outlook on this system will be issued by 800 PM EDT this evening.

* Formation chance through 48 hours...high...70 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days...high...90 percent.


Heavy rains the main threat

Even if 90L does not develop, the counter-clockwise flow of air around this low-pressure system in combination with a very wet tropical airmass will funnel large amounts of tropical moisture over Cuba and the Southeast U.S., resulting in very heavy rains during the coming week. Adding to the rainfall potential will be the possibility that 90L will bump into a strong ridge of high pressure to its north early next week, which would block the storm’s progress and result in a slow movement. The latest precipitation guidance from the National Weather Service and the European model show that 3 – 5” of rain are expected over the next 7 days over much of the Southeast U.S. Today’s update to the weekly Drought Monitor shows that the Southeast U.S. is now mostly drought-free, though there are still large swaths of abnormally dry conditions. This will make the region less prone to flooding than usual for this time of year.



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