Disturbance to soak South Florida tonight; Tropical Storm Chris forms in Atlantic

Get ready for the skies to open up.         

A tropical disturbance centered near Cuba is expected to produce 2 to 4 inches of rain over South Florida, starting Tuesday evening and through Friday. Some areas could see considerably more.

“The main threat is going to be the potential for flooding,” said meteorologist Alex Gibbs of the National Weather Service in Miami.

Meanwhile, at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Tropical Storm Chris emerged in the Atlantic about 560 miles southwest of Cape Race, Newfoundland, Canada. It’s the third system of the young 2012 hurricane season – and no threat to land.

 The National Hurricane Center is monitoring the Caribbean disturbance, saying “conditions are not particularly conducive” for the system to develop as it lumbers northwest at 5 to 10 mph.

As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, the hurricane center gave the area of low pressure a 10 percent chance of strengthening into a tropical depression or storm over the next two days.

In the meantime, it likely will bring heavy rain to the Cayman Islands, Cuba, the Bahamas and South Florida, senior hurricane specialist Dan Brown said.

The bulk of the rains from disturbance should arrive Tuesday evening and Wednesday. Much of the region should receive 1 to 3 inches during that time. There also should be some thunderstorms in the squally mix, Gibbs said.

Officially, the South Florida forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of rain Tuesday afternoon, increasing to 50 percent on Tuesday night and 60 percent on Wednesday.

Central Florida might see the outer fringes of the system, but shouldn’t receive as much rainfall as South Florida, the weather service said. Orlando’s forecast calls for mostly sunny skies on Tuesday, a 20 percent chance of rain on Wednesday and a 40 percent chance on Thursday.

South Florida might not see a nice sunny day again until next week, Gibbs said.

“Things stay fairly wet through Friday and really through the weekend,” he said.