Tropical depression 3

ORLANDO, Fla. — A tropical depression that formed near the Bahamas is expected to stay off Florida’s east coast but should bring 1-3 inches of rain to the Sunshine State through Tuesday, forecasters said Monday night.

In a special 8 p.m. update, the National Hurricane Center said Tropical Depression 3 was located about 115 miles southeast of West Palm Beach, moving northwest at about 13 mph.

Forecasters said the storm’s maximum sustained winds are near 30 mph with gusts to 40 mph.

“On the forecast track, the center of the depression should remain just offshore of the east coast of Florida over the next day or so,” the hurricane center said Monday night. “Rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches are expected across the Bahamas and the east coast of Florida through Tuesday.”

If the depression exceeds expectations and develops into a tropical storm, it would be the third named storm of 2019, with the name “Chantal.”

The disturbance was detected Sunday afternoon and had a 20% chance of tropical development within 48 hours. By 8 a.m. Monday those chances crept up to 30 percent, which ballooned to 60% in the NHC’s 2 p.m. update.

“That’s pretty surprising,” said WOFL Fox 35 meteorologist Jayme King. “It was believed that wind shear, the winds in the upper atmosphere, would tear the top of this, giving it a hair cut, and not giving it a chance to grow.”

Tropical storms commonly develop in the area of space east of the African coast, but since African dust has been drying out the area development in the region has been sparse, King said.

However, meteorologists suspected that areas closer to home may be opportune regions for tropical development, according to King.

The first named storms of 2019, Andrea and Barry, found their roots in the Bahamas and the Gulf of Mexico.

“Now is the time to be prepared especially with this wave so close to home,” King said. “It very well could have developed into a tropical storm by tomorrow. We don’t know yet. Anything could happen.”

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©2019 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

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