TRACKING THE TROPICS: Next tropical system expected to develop could affect Lowcountry

Computer models disagree on where the storm goes after Cuba. Some point it closer to Florida, which would have a bigger impact on the Lowcountry.
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 8:33 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2022 at 11:58 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - Hurricane Fiona was blasting the Turks and Caicos Islands as a Category 3 storm after devastating Puerto Rico.

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Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Gaston formed in the Atlantic far away from land and forecasters are watching a third system that some models say could affect the Southeastern U.S. coast or the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Fiona could become Category 4 storm

Most people in Puerto Rico remained without electricity or running water Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the storm’s eye passed close to Grand Turk Island, the small British territory’s capital island, on Tuesday morning after the government imposed a curfew and urged people to flee flood-prone areas. Storm surge could raise water levels there by as much as 5 to 8 feet above normal, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

The storm was centered about 50 miles north of North Caicos Island late Tuesday afternoon, with hurricane-force winds extending up to 30 miles from the center.

Fiona is moving toward the north-northwest near 8 mph, which is expected to continue into Tuesday night with a turn toward the north beginning Wednesday.

A turn toward the north-northeast with an increase in forward speed is expected on Thursday. On the forecast track, the center of Fiona will gradually move away from the Turks and Caicos tonight and Wednesday, and approach Bermuda late on Thursday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 115 mph with higher gusts.

Live 5 Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh says the storm could reach Category 4 strength as it approaches Bermuda.

Depression strengthens into Tropical Storm Gaston

Tropical Storm Gaston became the seventh named storm of the season Tuesday.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the center of Tropical Storm Gaston was

located near latitude 34.7 North, longitude 44.4 West. Gaston is

moving toward the north-northeast near 17 mph.

A turn to the northeast is expected on Wednesday, followed by a

motion to the east.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 40 mph with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is forecast during the next day or two.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center.

Swells generated by Gaston are expected to affect the Azores later this week. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Tropical wave expected to develop, expected to head for Gulf

A tropical wave a few hundred miles east of the Windward Islands continues to show signs of organization. The National Hurricane Center says a tropical depression is expected to form within the next few days as the system moves west or west-northwestward at 15 to 20 mph across the eastern Caribbean Sea.

Walsh said most of the computer models continue to track a tight path across the Caribbean toward the western edge of Cuba.

“After that is a big question,” he said.

Two of the biggest computer models disagree on where the storm goes next. The Euro model has it moving a little faster and a little further to the east, which could affect Florida and become a big rainmaker for the Lowcountry by the end of next week, he said.

The GFS model, on the other hand, has the storm moving more slowly and toward the west.

“Bottom line, any kind of tropical system coming into the Gulf with low wind shear and very warm surface temperatures and water is big trouble for folks along the Gulf Coast,” Walsh said. “It’s still a long way off, early in the ballgame.”

The next name on the 2022 Atlantic list is Hermine.