Tropical wave could be Gulf hurricane next week

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A strong tropical wave off South America's northern coast is forecast to strengthen as it moves into the Caribbean in the coming days.

Many forecast models place it in the Gulf of Mexico by  early next week, where they say the storm has the potential to become a hurricane.

It is too soon to tell if there will be direct impacts to the Florida Panhandle, though several forecast models indicate this is possible towards the end of next week.

"This is the most significant threat for the U.S. mainland we've had this hurricane season," AccuWeather chief meteorologist Jonathan Porter said. 

At this time, officials recommend that Florida Panhandle residents and residents in other areas around the Gulf of Mexico remain prepared but not panicked and continue to monitor weather forecasts.

These models have been fairly consistent moving this system, currently called Invest 98L, into the Gulf of Mexico by the early to middle part of next week.

The system is currently moving westward to west-northwestward at 15-20 miles per hour across the eastern to central Caribbean Sea.

The National Hurricane Center is currently projecting that the storm has a 70 percent chance of cyclone formation over the next 48 hours and an 90 percent chance over the next five days.

Most computer models predict the system will be a tropical storm by the weekend in the Caribbean. The models then show the system strengthening into a hurricane by early next week. If it becomes a named storm, it would be called Hermine. 

For instructions on how to remain hurricane prepared, visit https://www.stateofflorida.com/articles/hurricane-preparedness-guide/#:~:text=Make%20sure%20all%20trees%20and,secure%20and%20brace%20internal%20doors.

We are continuing to monitor forecasts and will update this report as more information becomes available.

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