Since southwest and southeast Florida got the brunt of Hurricane Wilma back in the fall of 2005, there have been 67 hurricanes formed in the Atlantic over the last eleven years. None of them have hit Florida, which has doubled the old record of 33 consecutive hurricanes without a Florida landfall, according to Denis Phillips over at ABC Action News.
With two named storms, Fiona and Gaston, out in the Atlantic and no threats to anyone, a close eye is being kept on an unnamed system just east of Puerto Rico. Many of the computer models have that mass of weather forming into something tropical, possibly hitting southeast Florida within a few days.
But, solving where a tropical system goes is like trying to figure out a checkmate on a chess board within a few moves. Just as the checkmate requires the opponent making certain moves so that the checkmate can happen as it predicts, the flaw in these computer models is that it requires the chess pieces (in this case, the weather system) to move in a predictable way.
With a system not even named yet, things become more problematic, because the circulation center might not be where the models think that they are. In turn, that changes the projected path of the system from point to point, and the models need a reliable starting point as a frame of reference.
The good news at this point (noon on Wednesday as I wrote this) is Tampa Bay won’t see the storm in all likelihood. If it gets too close to Hispaniola (the island the nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic sit), it may dissipate all together and effect only them as a rainmaker. If it stays north and doesn’t interact with that area much, then South Florida may get it, either as a tropical storm or a hurricane named Hermine.
Thursday morning brought news of a split consensus: half the models now think the storm will interact with Florida twice, once hitting the southeast, then again in the Panhandle. Some more models have the storm hugging the west coast up to a Big Bend area hit. But the multi-million dollar question is: as what?
For now, too many variables and history working for us here in Tampa Bay to give it much thought…though I just did.