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Uncertainty remains over a potential tropical system tracking toward the Gulf of Mexico

National Hurricane Center

Forecasters continue to monitor a tropical wave in the southeastern Caribbean Sea that is likely to land in the Gulf of Mexico as the next potential named system.

What happens after that, though, remains to be seen.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Invest 98-L was east of the Windward Islands on Thursday morning and moving west-northwest across the eastern Caribbean. It has a high percentage of becoming a tropical depression as early as Friday.

What could strengthen into Tropical Storm Hermine is then forecast to turn to the northwest and to the north, skirting the Yucatan Peninsula on its way into the Gulf.

Jeff George, chief meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, says there's a high probability of the system landing in the Gulf — but with an uncertain long-term track.

A "high-pressure system in the central Atlantic will steer whatever system this turns out to be right through the Caribbean over the weekend," George said. "The way it works with these spaghetti models is the the closer the models, the closer the spaghetti, the higher confidence we have of this track.

"As we go into early next week, when these models get farther apart, our confidence gets lower on what the heck this thing's going to do."

That seems to be the consensus according to the South Florida Water Management District, which assembled a plot of spaghetti models that take the system anywhere from the greater Tampa Bay region to Central America.

South Florida Water Management District

In the short-term, though the system is forecast to produce heavy rain and gusty winds over the Windward Islands on Thursday morning and then Central America heading into the weekend.

Meanwhile, Bermuda was under a hurricane warning Thursday morning as Hurricane Fiona remained a powerful Category 4 hurricane about 500 miles southwest of the island. It is tracking to the north-northeast with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph.

And portions of the Azores are under a tropical storm warning as Tropical Storm Gaston moves east-northeast over the open northern Atlantic.
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Carl Lisciandrello