A disturbance brewing in the southern Caribbean will likely become a tropical depression Wednesday as it heads north toward the Gulf of Mexico.
In their latest advisory, National Hurricane Center forecasters said the low pressure system became better organized overnight and is expected to head toward Nicaragua and arrive in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday. They gave the system a 90 percent chance of forming in 48 hours but say intensification is likely today.
Warm waters in the Caribbean extending deep beneath the surface are expected to help fuel the depression, which will be named Nate if it continues to intensify to a tropical storm.
It’s too soon to say what impacts the storm will have on the U.S. coast, but the latest computer models take it north across the Gulf, with a landfall somewhere between the Florida Panhandle and Louisiana. However, forecasting tracks before a system becomes organized can be difficult, with margins of error amounting to hundreds of miles.
Most models also keep the system a tropical storm over the next five days, with peak intensity in about three and a half days.
Watches and warnings could be issued for Nicaragua, Honduras, the Yucatan and western Cuba as early as today.
Squally weather blanketing South Florida Wednesday is not related to the storm, but part of another system over west Cuba and the Florida straits. Strong wind shear is expected to keep that system disorganized and prevent a tropical depression from forming as it generates heavy rain and gusty wind in Florida and the Bahamas Wednesday.
A new depression would mark the 16th cyclone in a record-breaking season that reached a feverish pitch last month with five named storms in less than a month and three major storms making landfall with lethal results. September broke the record for the amount of hurricane energy, called accumulated cyclone energy, and the number of days with a major hurricane, according to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach.
In August, forecasters upped their prediction for the number of storms to between 14 and 19, with two to five major hurricanes. Irma, Jose and Maria became fierce storms, forming during what is historically the peak of the season, which ends Nov. 30.
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