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Season's First Depression (Maybe Storm) Likely to Develop

Very warm waters and relatively light winds aloft will yield an environment favorable for tropical storm development just offshore of Florida’s Atlantic Coast in the next 48 hours. The National Hurricane Center says there is a “high chance” a tropical depression could form from a weak area of low pressure (referenced as Invest 91L) spinning a couple hundred miles east of Cape Canaveral. If the system remains over water, it could strengthen and become our first named tropical storm of the season, which would be called Arthur.

On its present southwest course, Invest 91L could slowly approach Florida’s Treasure Coast on Tuesday, before it likely makes another sharp turn to the north and eventually northeast where further strengthening is a possibility.

At this time, due to the relatively weak nature of the system and low confidence in the eventual track, much of Florida will likely only see an increase in daily thunderstorm activity and rain squalls as 91L moves by. Most of this activity will be focused near and south of the I-4 corridor, where some storms could produce heavy rain, gusty winds and possible water spouts.

It’s not unusual for systems to move this direction this time of year, although it will seem backwards to some. Weak and sometimes sudden shifts in the steering currents aloft can result in chaotic movement to early season storms, and it appears soon to be depression number “one” will fall victim to those conditions, meandering around a bit for a couple of days over the Gulf Stream.

Waters in this vicinity are warmer than normal, running in the middle 80’s in some spots. Wind shear and dry air have impeded the progress of Invest 91L on it’s road to maturing into a tropical cyclone. Winds are expected, however, to lighten up by Tuesday when deeper moisture will also be drawn into the system.

You can follow Jeff Huffman on Twitter @huffmanweather.

Jeff Huffman is Chief Meteorologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville. In addition to his full-time position at the university's radio and television stations, WUFT-FM/TV and WRUF-TV, the latter of which he co-founded, Huffman also provides weather coverage to public radio stations throughout Florida