Almost 11 years later, Wilma is still Miami's last brush with hurricane destruction. Earlier this week, a tropical wave in the Caribbean briefly looked like it might break that amazing streak. But now forecasters say Florida's chances of a significant hit this weekend are nearly gone.
The system, which never organized well enough to become Tropical Storm Hermine, has nearly fizzled out north of Cuba. In its 8 a.m. update this morning, NOAA's National Hurricane Center now gives the system only a 20 percent chance of developing even into a tropical depression in the next two days. A Hurricane Hunter flight to investigate the storm has been canceled.
"The same disturbance that we've been watching since it left the African coast back on the 16th... is still not even a depression, and is further from becoming one today than it ever has been," writes Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, who runs the blog Tropical Atlantic Update.
That doesn't mean South Florida won't feel any effects of the system. Some models still have the wave passing over Miami and the Keys late this weekend, which could mean heavy rain and gusty winds.
But the loosely organized storms probably won't have enough time to reorganize over the slightly more favorable conditions around Florida before drifting out into the Gulf of Mexico.
"Models continue to track the 'center' of this system... over the southern Florida peninsula/Keys, though none do so at any intensity worth worrying about," McNoldy writes. "Quite a few are unable to track a coherent vortex for the entire forecast period."
This might not be the last you hear of this system, though — it's still possible, if the storms survive their trek over Florida, that they'll reorganize over the warm waters of the Gulf and grow into a storm that might threaten the Gulf Coast. NOAA still gives the storm a 60 percent chance of forming into a named system within five days.
But for now, Miami can probably pop the top on that emergency rum supply and toast another near-miss.
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