Nine had sustained winds of 35 mph about 615 miles east-southeast of Jamaica, tracking west-northwest at 13 mph.
“Only a slow intensification is expected over the next day or so, followed by more significant intensification over the weekend and early next week,” the hurricane center said.
In the short term, Nine is expected to bring heavy rains to Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, northern Venezuela and northern Colombia which could lead to floods and mudslides across the islands.
The system is then expected to gain strength, transforming into a tropical storm as it heads toward Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Tropical storm warnings and monitoring for these locations are likely to be issued within the next 24 hours.
Expected precipitation totals:
- Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao: 1 to 2 extra inches
- Northern Venezuela: 2 to 5 inches
- Northern Colombia: 3 to 6 inches
- Jamaica: 4 to 8 inches with a local maximum of 12 inches
- Cayman Islands: 4 to 8 inches
- Southern Haiti and Southern Dominican Republic: 2 to 4 inches with a local maximum of 6 inches
After traversing the Caribbean this weekend, the system is expected to track as near or over western Cuba as a hurricane and enter the Gulf of Mexico early next week.
“The guidance model early on is in fairly good agreement, but the largest spread across the path begins to take shape within 48 hours,” the hurricane center said. “There is still a great deal of uncertainty in the forecast for the track in the 4-5 day time frame.”
Both major weather forecast models, American and European, currently show the system tracking in the Gulf of Mexico early next week; However, the American track shows a more western track while the European one shows a more eastern track.
On Friday morning, the European model showed the storm over the Florida Keys on Tuesday, affecting much of southern Florida. The US model showed the effect of the storm over much of the central west coast of Florida on Wednesday.
The official forecast track from the Hurricane Center splits the difference between weather forecast models, showing the storm approaching the Florida peninsula late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning as a strong Category 2 hurricane.
It was a slow start to what was expected to be an above-average hurricane season. Only one storm has made landfall in the United States, and no hurricane has made landfall or threatens the neighboring United States.
Now, a week into the height of hurricane season, the tropics seem to have woken up, and forecasters worry that people have let their guard down.
“After a slow start, the Atlantic hurricane season has accelerated rapidly,” Colorado State University researcher Phil Klotzbach wrote on Twitter.
“People tend to lower their guard and think, Oh, yeah, we’re out of the woods,” Torres said. “But in reality, the season continues. We’re still in September; we still have October to go. Anything that forms over the Atlantic or the Caribbean is something we need to watch closely.”
The Atlantic hurricane season ends on November 30.
Regardless of whether you live in the Caribbean, Florida, and other states along the Gulf Coast, pay attention to updated forecasts this weekend through early next week.