Strengthening storm likely to be first S. Florida system of 2015 hurricane season

A storm percolating off the South Florida coast is now more likely to become the first system of the 2015 hurricane season, forecasters said Wednesday afternoon.

Bay News 9 meteorologist Josh Linker said this system, whatever it becomes, will be no threat to Manatee County and generally no threat to Florida.

"There has been talk about this low taking on subtropical characteristics and possibility tropical characteristics down the line," he said in his blog. "Hurricane season begins on June 1, but here we are, talking about the possibility of a developing low pressure system east of Florida."

The storm, which dumped heavy rain on Miami and Broward counties Tuesday, has a 60 percent chance of becoming at least a tropical depression as it moves north and then northwestward toward the Carolinas over the next 48 hours, said forecasters with the National Hurricane Center.

Whether or not a system materializes, forecasters warn the Southeast coast of the United States could still have heavy rain beginning Thursday.

Forecasters upped the odds for the messy storm becoming more organized as conditions farther north become more favorable. Ocean temperatures are running between 3 and 5 degrees warmer than normal, enough to fuel the storm.

Named storms in May, even though outside the hurricane season, are not uncommon. Since 2007, there have been four named systems in May. Tropical Storms Alberto and Beryl formed in 2012. It was unusual to have two named storms in May of one year. In 2008, Tropical Storm Arthur formed May 31. In 2007, Subtropical Storm Andrea formed May 9.

Subtropical means the system will be partially tropical and partially extra-tropical, which simply means non-tropical. Several years ago, meteorologists started giving subtropical storms names and/or numbers. So, it is possible the “A” storm this year would be subtropical, Linker saidl.

Linker said the storm could lead to heavy rain and wind along the Carolina Coast by the end of the week. It will drag in some dry air for Manatee County and cut off rain chances into the weekend.