From west to east:

FRED is now on the home leg, centred around 200 miles west of Tampa and headed north-ish at 8 knots. FRED continues to strengthen but is unlikely to be anything more than a weak tropical storm at landfall tomorrow night in the western half of the Florida panhandle. The anticipated maximum hurricane severity index rating is unchanged since yesterday, just 3 (1 for size and 2 for intensity) which translates into a tiny storm with maximum gusts of 45 knots. The main feature at landfall will be very heavy rainfall.

Tropical Storm Grace should have the offshore interests dusting off their hurricane response plans. Currently close off the south west coast of Puerto Rico headed a tad north of west at 12 knots, GRACE has two options. The first is a track very close to that of FRED crossing Hispaniola then Cuba before turning into the eastern Gulf of Mexico and regaining tropical storm intensity and then to head in the general direction of the Florida panhandle. This is not a powerful storm at the moment and impact ashore is expected to be minimal, which is a blessing for the continuously blighted people of Haiti, I’d imagine. The second option is for a continued westerly track emerging into the western Gulf of Mexico where conditions for development are extremely favourable for development into a strong tropical storm or hurricane. Current pressure gradient forecasts then point at southern Texas next weekend. There are too many hurdles for GRACE to cross as things stand, so hurricane severity index rating predictions are pure conjecture at the moment but personally, I’d start planning for this to become a hurricane in the western Gulf and hope I’m wrong*.

Disturbance Thirty One has piped up well to the north, currently milling around some 250 miles north of Bermuda. This is an oddball low pressure system with little sign of development or indeed any steering currents likely to move it far from its current position for a day or two. There may be development window appearing over the next day or two but not much beyond that.

Disturbance Thirty is centred around 150 miles south-sou’west of the Cape Verde Islands, inching its way west into fairly cyclone-hostile conditions. For the time being, no development is expected.

Stand by for tropical storm force winds and heavy rainfall across the Florida panhandle and beyond.

*My opinion is not necessarily that of the Munich Re Syndicate nor should it be construed as an instruction or advice, simply the thoughts of a cautious old sailor.

Image Teresa Orlowski