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UPDATE: Potential Tropical Cyclone #16 will impact parts of FL starting today

Potential Tropical Cyclone #16 is expected to strengthen today and likely become Tropical Storm Ophelia soon.

Tropical Storm Warnings has been posted for areas off the central and northern South Carolina coast heading northward. The system is producing a large area of tropical-storm-force winds and will intensify further before it reaches the coast of North Carolina early Saturday.

Tropical storm conditions are expected along portions of the southeastern and mid-Atlantic U.S. coasts within the Tropical Storm Warning area through Saturday.

Although the system is forecasted to stay well offshore, the north and central Florida east coast will experience gusty winds, rough surf, and a high risk for rip currents starting today.

The strongest winds are expected across the northeast parts of the state where gusts over 20-30 MPH are possible. This will cause offshore waves in the 5–10-foot range, so a Small Craft Advisory has been posted until Saturday afternoon from the First Coast down to Fort Lauderdale. The Jacksonville National Weather Service has advised, “Inexperienced mariners, especially those operating smaller vessels, should avoid navigating in hazardous conditions”.

Much farther away in the Eastern Atlantic, a tropical wave (INVEST 90) will likely become a depression this weekend as it tracks northwestward. This system will need to be watched as it possibly approaches the Caribbean and Antilles next week. For now, tropical models are keeping it out to sea.