The Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic gave birth to the first tropical storm systems of the 2017 hurricane season Monday evening.
The storms should stay well away from Florida’s coastline, but will likely dump widespread showers and intermittent heavy rains on the Tampa Bay area Tuesday and Wednesday before sending drier air through the region for the weekend, 10Weather WTSP meteorologist Bobby Deskins said.
The first upgraded storm of the 2017 hurricane season, Tropical Storm Bret, was cruising west-northwest through the Atlantic at speeds of about 30 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in an evening advisory.
The Caribbean storm brought heavy rain bands to Trinidad and Tobago by 8 p.m. Monday, and was expected to move near or over Trinidad and the eastern coast of Venezuela early Tuesday, a National Hurricane Center advisory said.
But Deskins said Bret likely will dissipate by late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, before winds exceed 50 mph or push it towards Cuba’s coastline.
"Storms need light winds and thunderstorms to make it spin and keep growing, but if winds get too strong and start blowing across the center of the storm they blow the storm apart," Deskins said. "That’s why we call it wind sheer, because it’s sheering the tops right off the storm."
Bret shouldn’t pose a threat to the United States, but could cause stormy weather along the South American coastline, he said. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Trinidad, Tobago and Grenada, and Curacao is under a tropical storm watch, said National Weather Service forecaster Nicole Carlisle.
The second storm system, though, likely will bring several days of heavy rains and broad showers to the Tampa Bay area as it travels north through the Gulf of Mexico.
A tropical storm warning was issued for portions of the western Louisiana coast Monday night as Invest 93 moved off the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. By Monday evening the storm had become Potential Tropical Cyclone Three but had yet to develop the cloud cover needed to become Tropical Storm Cindy. However, it was nearing named-storm status with winds of up to 40 mph, Deskins said.
"There will be wind and rain in New Orleans, but it won’t be Katrina busting down the levies," Deskins said.
It isn’t unusual to see storms like Invest 93 in the Gulf of Mexico by early June, though Atlantic storms like Tropical Storm Bret are more rare, said Carlisle of the National Weather Service.
Storms usually pass through the Atlantic in August and September in waves from the west coast of Africa, she said.
"But forecasters predicted early on that this year’s hurricane season could see more activity than typical, and there are water temperatures in the Atlantic around 80 degrees," Carlisle said. "Warm water is kind of the fuel for tropical storms."
Regardless of either system’s path, extra tropical moisture is already helping drive higher storm possibilities for Tampa Bay to start the week, with rain chances hovering around 70 percent through Thursday.
Residents should expect winds to remain relatively strong and rain to be heaviest in the afternoons before easing each night, forecasters said.
Contact Anastasia Dawson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3377. Follow @adawsonwrites.