UPDATED: TS Watch for Lower Keys, Idalia Strengthening

NOTE: We will update information on Idalia as it becomes available.

Tropical Storm Idalia is strengthening, and it is now forecast to become a major hurricane before making landfall on the Gulf coast north of our area. But portions of South Florida will feel tropical storm force winds, starting as early as tonight.

There is now a tropical storm warning for Dry Tortugas, and there is a tropical storm watch for the Lower Keys, from Key West to the Seven Mile Bridge.  This is in addition to the tropical storm watch from Chokoloskee northward to Englewood.

Storm surge flooding is also likely, which will be enhanced by flooding at high tide.

At 5 am Monday, Idalia was located near 20.1 North, 85.2 West, about 125 miles south of the western tip of Cuba.  There is a hurricane warning for Pinar del Rio.  Idalia’s maximum sustained winds were 65 miles per hour, so it is on track to become a hurricane on Monday.  Idalia was moving north at 7 miles per hour, and this forward speed is forecast to increase later today.

As of 11 pm Sunday, there is a tropical storm watch from Englewood south to Chokoloskee and for Dry Tortugas. This includes the Naples area.  A hurricane watch is in effect for the Gulf Coast from Englewood northward to Indian Pass in the Florida panhandle.  The hurricane watch includes the Tampa Bay area.  A watch means that tropical storm or hurricane conditions are possible in the watch area within 48 hours.

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Right now in South Florida, Monday features morning sun with clouds, showers, and storms on a building breeze in the afternoon and evening as South Florida begins to feel the effects of Tropical Storm Idalia.  Expect an increasing risk of dangerous rip currents at South Florida’s beaches, starting on Monday.  Highs on Monday will be mostly in the low 90s.

Tuesday will see Idalia’s closest approach to South Florida.  Expect windy conditions and plenty of showers and storms.  Localized flooding is possible in spots.  Tropical storm conditions are possible along the Gulf Coast and in the Lower Keys on Tuesday evening.  Expect a high risk of dangerous rip currents at all South Florida beaches.  Tuesday’s highs will be mostly in the low 90s.

Wednesday will be windy with some sun, more clouds, early showers, and plenty of afternoon and evening storms.  Look for winds to diminish a bit during the evening as Idalia moves well to our north, but it will remain breezy as we experience the “tail” of the storm.  Wednesday’s highs will be in the low 90s.

Thursday will be breezy with mostly sunny skies and periods of showers and storms.  Thursday’s highs will be mostly in the humid mid-90s in the East Coast metro area and in the low 90s along the Gulf Coast and in the Keys.

Friday’s forecast calls for lots of hot sun with periods of showers and storms.  Highs on Friday will be in the mid-90s.

Elsewhere in the tropics, Hurricane Franklin continues to strengthen and is forecast to become a major hurricane on Monday.  Franklin will come uncomfortably close to Bermuda on Wednesday.  But very dangerous surf conditions and life-threatening rip currents are already affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. Atlantic coast.  And a wave will be entering the eastern Atlantic in a day or so.  This feature will have a low chance of developing this week as it moves generally westward.

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