That's right! Less than 72 hours into the official 2022 hurricane season, "much of southern and central Florida, including the Florida Keys" are under a Tropical Storm Warning as of the National Hurricane Center's (NHC) latest 8 a.m. advisory.
Translation: Within the next 36 hours, South Floridians should expect "tropical storm conditions," i.e., sustained wind speeds of 39 mph.
As of midmorning, the system, which is being referred to as "Potential Tropical Cyclone One," is an area of low pressure roughly 400 miles southwest of Fort Myers. However, the NHC expects the storm to strengthen into a tropical storm today, at which point it will be the first named Atlantic storm of the season, Tropical Storm Alex.
Tropical Storm Warnings are now in effect for much of southern and central Florida, including the Florida Keys. Tropical-storm-force winds are likely to begin in Florida by tonight and early Saturday. See https://t.co/tW4KeGdBFb for more info. pic.twitter.com/USGWhSfcuN— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) June 3, 2022
"Maximum sustained winds remain near 40 mph (65 km/h) with higher gusts," the NHC advisory stated. "The system is expected to develop a well-defined center and become a tropical storm later today, and some slight strengthening is possible while it approaches Florida today and tonight."
The Florida Keys, west coast of Florida south of the Middle of Longboat Key, east coast of Florida south of the Volusia/Brevard County Line, Lake Okeechobee, and the Cuban provinces of Pinar del Rio, Artemisa, La Habana, and Mayabeque, and the Northwestern Bahamas remain in a tropical storm warning.
NHC predicts that tropical storm conditions are expected to start later tonight. The forecast has the storm hitting the southern and central portions of Florida on Saturday. South Florida is expected to receive four to 12 inches of rain.
"This rain may produce considerable flash and urban flooding," the NHC advisory warns. "Isolated tornadoes are possible over South Florida beginning this evening and continuing through Saturday."
For the seventh year running, the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have predicted above-average Atlantic hurricane seasons owing to the ongoing La Niña weather phenomenon, which leads to cooler water in the equatorial Pacific Ocean and warmer-than-average surface temperatures in the Atlantic and Caribbean.
This year, they're forecasting between 14 and 21 named storms (winds of 30 mph or higher), six to 10 hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), and three to six "major hurricanes" (winds of 111 mph or higher).
Miami-Dade County recommends a hurricane supply checklist that includes seven days' worth of nonperishable food, water, battery-powered devices, and a first-aid kit.