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Storm Threat to U.S. Could Track Florida Coast, Veer Out to Sea

Brian K. Sullivan

(Bloomberg) -- The storm system that’s spent the last two days raining down on the Bahamas, slowing its recovery from Hurricane Dorian, is likely to track along or near Florida’s coast on the weekend, then veer out to sea.

Parts of Florida remain on a tropical storm watch and will probably get heavy rain in any case. The system has maximum sustained winds near 30 mph (48 kilometers), just under tropical storm levels, and is barely moving at 1 mph, according to an 11 a.m. New York time report by the National Hurricane Center.

The system, located 289 miles east southeast of Grand Bahama Island, is forecast to strengthen within 48 hours, and a storm watch is intact from the Jupiter Inlet in Florida to the Flagler-Volusia county line. While the latest forecast sees Florida once again spared after a close miss by Dorian, forecasters say the path remains subject to change.

“The models have trended toward an out-to-sea solution and that seems to be the most viable solution,” said Jim Rouiller, chief meteorologist at the Energy Weather Group outside Philadelphia. “But there is always a ‘what if.’ If the timing is off with this trough then a more northward track could resume.”

Rouiller sees a low-pressure trough moving across the Northeast nudging the system out into the Atlantic.

For two days, the system has been sitting over the part of the Bahamas hit hardest by Dorian.

The island nation is still struggling to recover from that storm, which stalled over the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane with 180-mph winds. At least 50 people are confirmed dead from Dorian, hundreds are missing and the Abaco islands and Grand Bahama are devastated.

If the disturbance gets better organized and gains strength, it will be called Humberto, becoming the eighth storm named across the Atlantic in a season that’s been slightly more active than the average.

On Wednesday, the health minister for the Bahamas, Duane Sands, said teams of dog handlers from the U.S., Canada and Belgium are uncovering more and more dead bodies among the debris. In a nation where 80% of the land is less than 32 feet (10 meters) above sea level, people were confronted by “20 feet of ocean in their backyard,” Sands said.

The six-month Atlantic season reached its statistical peak on Sept. 10, with its most active phase lasting until early October. The season ends on Nov. 30.

--With assistance from Sharon Cho and Bill Lehane.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at bsullivan10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tina Davis at tinadavis@bloomberg.net, Reg Gale, Steven Frank

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