Potential tropical disturbance 16 is currently moving across the Gulf of Mexico and expected to arrive sometime after midnight in Florida's Panhandle.
The disturbance has the potential to strengthen into Tropical Storm Nestor later today and could bring life-threatening storm surge and tropical force winds to Florida's northern gulf coast.
Data from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 60 mph (95 km/h) with higher gusts. Some additional strengthening is expected later today, with weakening forecast after the system moves inland.
The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water could reach the following heights above ground somewhere in the indicated areas if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide...
Indian Pass FL to Chassahowitzka FL...3 to 5 ft
Chassahowitzka to Clearwater Beach FL...2 to 4 ft
Tampa Bay...1 to 3 ft
Gale-force winds are likely along portions of the Atlantic coast of the southeastern United States by Saturday.
The disturbance is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 2 to 4 inches this weekend from the central Gulf Coast and northern and central Florida to the eastern Carolinas, with isolated maximum amounts of 6 inches.
A tornado or two is possible tonight and early Saturday near the Florida Gulf Coast from the central panhandle to the western peninsula.
Photo credit: National Hurricane Center