RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — What was Hurricane Agatha in the Pacific Ocean is expected to become Tropical Storm Alex in the Gulf of Mexico tomorrow.
So, why is this storm called a “Potential Tropical Cyclone One (PTC)” right now?
In short, it is an attempt to not be caught flat-footed when the storm actually develops. The preparations for a tropical storm or hurricane, such as getting the boat out of the water or boarding up the windows takes some time. In addition, so does getting shelters ready, staffed and stocked up for anybody who must evacuate.
Ideally, people should have 48 hours or even a little longer to prepare for extreme weather events. So, by using the PTC naming, you can get watches, warnings, etc. out to allow for all the preparations to get started. If you were to wait until the storm existed, you would have a much shorter window of time to prepare.
For example, this system is expected to become Tropical Storm Alex by Friday afternoon and make landfall near Naples, Florida on Saturday. That would only be a 24-hour window of alerts for the public which would make preparations much harder to do.
So, what is going to happen with this storm?
The storm will move through south-central Florida on Saturday, dropping heavy amounts of rain and winds of 45-50 mph. Rain is expected to be more of a problem than the wind. The storm will then move northeast to where it is well south of Wilmington, NC on Sunday and well southeast of the Outer Banks.
We won’t see any weather from the storm here in Central Virginia. However, along the coastline from Florida’s East Coast and up to the Outer Banks, I expect that we will experience high surf and the potential for some dangerous rip currents. That is something to be very aware of if you are headed to the beaches this weekend and early next week.