A tropical storm warning means tropical storm-force conditions are expected within 36 hours somewhere within the warning area, which stretches from the Bay-Walton County line to the Anclote River north of St. Petersburg.
PANAMA CITY — A stubborn tropical depression trekked farther to the west than originally anticipated, and forecasters nudged the storm's predicted path closer to include more of the Florida Panhandle.
On Wednesday morning, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a tropical storm warning from the Bay-Walton County line to the Anclote River north of the Tampa Bay area. A tropical storm warning means tropical storm-force conditions — winds of at least 39 mph — are expected somewhere within the warning area in the next 36 hours. Because the storm, which is expected to strengthen into Tropical Storm Hermine on Wednesday, has a small chance to reach minimal hurricane strength — with winds at least 74 mph — a hurricane watch was still in effect from Indian Pass in Gulf County to the Anclote River.
Late Wednesday, a hurricane warning was issued from Mexico Beach to the Suwannee River.
National Weather Service Tallahassee Meteorologist Mark Wool said Tuesday night the rainfall forecast had been adjusted, “with values increasing.” While Panama City Beach might only see 1 inch of rain from the tropical depression, the forecast is showing a “tight gradient,” Wool noted, with Dixie County seeing 6 to 8 inches. Wool said if the storm were to continue to track farther west than currently forecast, the chance of seeing more than an inch of rain in Bay County would increase.
And while there is a 40 percent chance of tropical storm-force winds in Bay County, the official forecast keeps winds below 39 mph, the minimum wind speed required to be a tropical storm. Torndoes are also possible, especially in Gulf and Franklin counties.
Wool cautioned residents to stay vigilant.
“The Gulf of Mexico is super hot,” Wool said Tuesday afternoon. “There’s an awful lot of energy content, and it’d only take a narrow window of favorable conditions for the thing to develop fairly quickly. … You want it to start turning.”
As of 7 a.m. CDT Wednesday, the storm was located 400 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, inching north at 2 mph. Although the storm is expected to have most of its winds and rain to the east of the center, “a little wobble to the west” could cause conditions in the Florida Panhandle to deteriorate.
Even if it did wobble, the system still is forecast to exit the state before the Labor Day holiday weekend begins.
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