Update Friday 5 pm: The National Hurricane Center says Tropical Depression Nine has formed, located 240 miles east-southeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. A center of circulation was noted on the eastern side of a broad area of low pressure, based on satellite and hurricane hunter data. The more eastward placement of that center prompted forecasters to make a significant adjustment to the forecast track for the soon-to-be tropical storm, which is now more than 100 miles from the coast of South Carolina early next week.
The developing tropical storm near the Bahamas is likely to stay offshore and be mostly a coastal event for South Carolinians early next week.
Confidence is also increasing that the soon-to-be tropical storm will turn more to the northeast and move farther from the coast as it intensifies, sparing most of the Palmetto State any significant impacts.
The National Hurricane Center issued a Tropical Storm Watch along portions of Florida’s Atlantic Coast for the possibility that Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine might bring tropical storm conditions to those areas within 48 hours. If or when tropical storm force winds appear more likely, the watch would be upgraded to a warning.
Forecast data late Thursday night and Friday morning has moved in the direction of a scenario that will leave the Midlands and Upstate regions largely unaffected by the developing storm. This was unclear Thursday, as National Hurricane Center forecasters noted a “greater than normal” level of uncertainty with the potential cyclone. Several of the reliable forecast models were split on a weaker track to the west across Florida, versus a stronger system moving up along or just offshore of the Atlantic Coast.
Near-normal weather conditions are expected this weekend across all of South Carolina, with any potential influences from PTC Nine likely holding off until Sunday night or Monday. Rain chances are likely to increase across the Lowcountry and PeeDee regions Monday as PTC Nine moves closer, but even this scenario is a bit uncertain at the time.
The highest chances of tropical storm force winds occurring, which are only at 30 to 40 percent according to the National Hurricane Center, are immediately along the Atlantic Coast roughly from the Georgia/South Carolina state line to Georgetown. At the present time, significant wind damage appears highly unlikely from this system anywhere in South Carolina. However, a persistent onshore wind from the future tropical storm will likely produce high surf, coastal flooding, and some beach erosion along all shorelines, with conditions deteriorating Sunday and worsening Monday.
Potential Cyclone Nine (or soon-to-be Tropical Storm Humberto) is forecast to enter an environment more favorable for intensification just south of South Carolina Monday, and it could even become a hurricane. However, by this time, steering currents are likely to push it away from the state to the north and east.
As with any developing tropical system, there is still a level of uncertainty with the forecast that justifies a constant watch for possible changes in the projected track of PTC Nine. Our team of meteorologists at the South Carolina Emergency Information Network will provide frequent updates on this site, and on Twitter and Facebook.