FORT MYERS, Fla. — The system that became Tropical Depression Nine on Sunday moved on Monday into the Gulf of Mexico, where warm water and low wind shear provide the ingredients necessary for development.
The depression is expected to develop into Tropical Storm Hermine in the next couple of days, and though the forecast track calls for a landfall somewhere somewhere between the Tampa Bay area and the Florida panhandle, Southwest Florida could still see heavy rain and breezy conditions this week.
The system was about 240 miles (385 kilometers) west of Key West, Florida, with maximum winds of 35 mph (55 kph), according to the Associated Press. It was moving west, but forecasters expect it could curve back to the northeast in the coming days. Authorities at some locations in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area of Florida were hauling out sandbags Monday to offer residents amid predictions of heavy rains.
That movement is expected to curve toward the north and east over the next few days because of a front that is forecast to affect upper level winds. The system is expected to make landfall as a tropical storm sometime Thursday, though that could change.
Southwest Florida could see locally heavy rain, gusty wind and lightning in the storms associated with the system, which are mostly to the east of the center of circulation. Still, the impact should be relatively minimal.
Visit WINK News Hurricane Central for continued updates and to make sure you have what you need to be prepared for the effects of any tropical system.
Officials, residents make storm plans
Residents living in an area on Manasota Key where some properties sustained extensive damage from the effect of Tropical Storm Colin in June weren’t taking any chances Monday as the threat of more rain and wind loomed.
Beachfront condo residents laid sandbags in front of their homes as Charlotte County Emergency Management officials advised them to brace for more beach erosion.
“There’s always a concern with erosion out along the coast,” said Wayne Sallade, the director of the emergency management department. “Somebody’s going to lose some sand. That’s almost a given when you have these types of storms.
County officials were also worried about the potential for flooding along Gasparilla Road.
Elsewhere, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials said they weren’t planning to change the level of water releases into the Caloosahatchee River from Lake Okeechobee, but they cautioned that could change depending on how much rainfall occurs. Authorities in Lee County lowered water levels by several feet in Harns Marsh, a stormwater retention preserve near Lehigh Acres.