This weekend’s weather pattern will be troublesome for many Floridians, but also for forecasters as well. It’s not real clear yet whether the system approaching Florida will officially be named or not.
“Whether it gets a name (Nate) or not really doesn't matter, as the impacts will be the same,” says Meteorologist Al Sandrik from the National Weather Service Jacksonville.
Even though Sandrik was referring to mostly northeast Florida, the same could be said about much of central and south Florida as well.
An area of low pressure is forecast to develop over the Straits of Florida Friday, then intensify as it moves north along the east coast Saturday. Periods of rain - some of it heavy, gusty winds, rough surf, and a high risk of rip currents can all be expected the Atlantic coast this weekend.
The heaviest rain will fall across South Florida Saturday, then spread north into central and northeast Florida Sunday.
The National Hurricane Center is closely monitoring the disturbance that will become responsible for the unsettled weather, advising Thursday that it had a “medium chance” of developing into a tropical cyclone on Saturday as it moved up along the east coast of Florida.
On Sunday, a strong ridge of high pressure is expected to move off the coast of the Mid-Atlantic states, preventing the tropical entity from moving any further north than offshore of the Florida-Georgia border. In fact, upper-level conditions are likely to become less favorable for continued tropical development early next week, and the area of low pressure is most likely to dissipate slowly and drift west across the state.
The onshore flow from the east will strengthen after the low pressure dissipates due to a tight pressure gradient developing. This will extend the period of unsettled coastal conditions for several days, potentially delaying the return of flood waters and prolonging the elevated risk of rip currents.
Mariners are encouraged to avoid operating small vessels over open waters where waves could be too large for safe navigation. Inexperienced swimmers and surfers should also avoid the unsafe waters, especially without a lifeguard on duty.