As of 2 a.m. EDT on October 17, 2011, NOAA’s Miami-based National Hurricane Center predicts that the tropical low in the Gulf of Mexico has a 60% chance of forming into a cyclone within the next 48 hours.
Surface observations indicate the large low pressure system located near the northeastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula is gradually becoming better defined.
Shower and thunderstorms have also increased and become better organized near the survace center during the past several hours.
Additionally, winds to near tropical storm force are occurring in the Yucatan channel, over the extreme southeastern Gulf of Mexico, and over the western Straits of Florida.
Upper-level winds are expected to be marginally conducive for development during the next day or so before becoming unfavorable after that.
Although this large distrubance is interacting with the Yucatan Peninsula, some gradual development is still possible as the low moves north-northwest at 5 to 10 m.p.h toward South and Central Florida.
Locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds are expected over the Yucatan Peninsula, western Cuba, the Florida Keys, and South Florida during the next couple of days.
A U.S. Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the low this afternoon if necessary.