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Likely Tropical Storm Heading Toward Florida, But Impacts Remain Unclear

What is forecast to become Tropical Storm Isaias on Wednesday continues to move west across the Caribbean, with Florida squarely within the “cone of uncertainty.”

Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine was passing near Dominica in the eastern Caribbean early Wednesday morning, and several islands – including Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the U.S. Virgin Islands – are under a tropical storm warning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

As of 5 a.m., the storm was located about 385 miles east-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and moving west-northwest at 23 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph with higher gusts, according to the weather service.

Forecasters say the system will slow down in speed and could weaken after it becomes a tropical storm once it encounters land.

Either way, southeast Florida should experience tropical storm conditions early this weekend.

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network meteorologist Ray Hawthorne said those impacts remain unclear.

“The forecast models are showing a variety of possible outcomes because the system’s center is still organizing and consolidating,” Hawthorne said. “If the storm affects Florida, South Florida would be the first to see tropical storm force winds and heavier showers as soon as Saturday.”

The island nations could experience around 3-6 inches of rain, with isolated totals of 8-10 inches possible in some areas – along with dangerous winds and rough surf.

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Carl Lisciandrello
Carl Lisciandrello is digital news editor of WUSF Public Media.