Over the last few years, Florida has had a lot of good fortune.

Since Michael hit the Panhandle, there has not been a direct strike on the state, even though the state is prone to hurricanes.

Consider the three major hurricanes that have ravaged Louisiana in that time, and Florida's recent punishment has been light at best.

The hot streak could come to an end next week as Florida faces its most serious threat in three years.

We don't know if a storm will hit Florida. We don't know much about Tropical Depression Nine.

The storm may hit Florida's west coast as a major Hurricane.

This is your storm preparation guide.

Wind-speed probabilities for Tropical Depression 9 as of 2 a.m. Friday, Sept. 23, 2022.
Wind-speed probabilities for Tropical Depression 9 as of 2 a.m. Friday, Sept. 23, 2022.

There is a lot of uncertainty as to which part of Florida will be hit the hardest by a potential Hurricane.

What we know about Tropical Depression Nine: African wave grabs Hermine name, but Ian is on deck

There was a tropical depression in the east-central Caribbean. The NHC advisory has sustained winds. A general western track is likely through Saturday as the depression moves north at 15 mph.

The depression is being displaced by wind shear west of the circulation center, which should strengthen for the next couple of days. There is a chance that the storm may become a tropical storm.

Tropical Depression 9 won't be the second consecutive Hurricane Hermine in the Gulf, but it will be the first. Ian is on the list.

Could a second Hurricane Hermine get into the Gulf of Mexico?

Now, Sunday is when things start to get serious — to a possible Category 3 level

In the western Caribbean, upper-level outflow is excellent, mid-level precipitation is plentiful, and vertical wind shear is low. The northwest Caribbean waters have the highest heat content in the Atlantic basin.

Rapid intensification is defined as sustained winds jumping 30 knots or more in a single day.

Hot off the press 12z GFS ensemble comparison with the 06z Euro. The GFS ensembles are swinging back west as well.

The storm is expected to reach Category 3 strength by Wednesday. I would caution that even faster strength is possible between Sunday and Tuesday, as that is a realistic base case.

When a rapid intensification cycle occurs, it's difficult to predict how much strengthening will happen. Major hurricanes can come together quickly when the necessary ingredients are in place.

According to the forecast, a deep trough over the eastern seaboard will cause the storm to curve to the northwest on Sunday and Monday, setting the storm on a path towards western Cuba by late Monday. Before a more northward motion ensues on Tuesday, there will be subtle differences in steering wind patterns. The most likely path will take the storm into the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The latest path and computer model runs can be found here.

Uncertainty abounds: But South Florida residents should prepare now for possible Hurricane Charley scenario

It is not certain what the forecast will be after Tuesday.

The official NHC track shows that the storm will be a major Hurricane on Wednesday. Everyone in Southwest and Central Florida will be on edge due to the similarity of the track traced by Category 4 Hurricane Charley in 2004.

The most dangerous scenario on the table is one in which the turn north and northeast takes place faster and puts the Keys and South Florida in the crosshairs.

The combination of a short timeline for preparation, high population density, and the likely continuation of favorable conditions for strengthening through early Wednesday means that residents of the southern half of the Florida peninsula should begin preparing for a possible major Hurricane now.

Panhandle is far from in the clear at this point

Before heading north and east over the eastern Gulf, TD 9 could swing to the west. Today's model runs are edging back west after a big jump east yesterday, which would increase the risks for the Panhandle, Big Bend, and west Central Florida.

Spending more time over the Gulf sounds bad, but shear and dry air intrusion into the storm could offset this.

Steering currents in the eastern Gulf will be affected by the eastern U.S. trough's departure in the middle of next week.

Our communities were devastated by Hurricane Michael.

The bottom line is if there isn't a sprint across South Florida or east-central Florida on Tuesday or Wednesday, what will happen next?

The narrow angle of approach between the storm's motion and the orientation of the Florida Gulf coastline makes it impossible to project a landfall point.

The ferocious core of the storm was brought to the Fort Myers area by a subtle change in heading just prior to landfall. No one is off the hook in Florida at the moment.

Storm preparation is essential

I can tell you are still using your turn signals because there are many new Florida residents.

This threat merits active preparation at this point in time. If your local authorities issue an order to evacuate, you need to be ready to do so in South Florida.

If you're in North Florida, you should get your plan and kit in order. If Florida's luck doesn't change this week, preparation is important.

Don't forget to keep an eye on the skies.

Ryan Truchelut, WeatherTiger

WeatherTiger is a start-up that provides forensic meteorology and expert witness consulting, as well as agricultural and Hurricane forecasting subscription. Visit weathertiger.com to get a real-time version of our seasonal outlook.

The link at the top of the page allows you to subscribe to the newspaper.

The article was originally published on the Democrat.