Weekend tropical cyclone likely near Windward Islands

National Hurricane Center

A tropical wave rolling across the Central Atlantic is threatening to become a tropical storm or depression over the next five days, hurricane forecasters said Monday.

The system is likely to become more organized as it encounters favorable conditions over the next five days, meaning it could be a tropical depression or storm by the time it nears the Windward Islands later in the week, National Hurricane Center forecasters said in a 2 p.m. adivsory. They gave the system a 70 percent chance of forming by Saturday.

The system was nearly stationary Monday afternoon about 700 miles south, southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands off the coast of Africa and kept in check by a swirl of dry Saharan wind.

In his Weather Underground blog, meteorologist Jeff Masters said hurricane models agree that a tropical depression is likely by next week, with some calling for a hurricane. While it’s still early in the forecast, a possible track would take the storm toward the Lesser Antilles. However a low pressure trough may steer the storm on a more northwesterly course, potentially raising the threat to the Bahamas, Bermuda and the east coast of the U.S.

If a storm develops, it would be Don, the fourth named storm of a season that so far has gotten off to an early start. Last month, two tropical storms popped up, with Tropical Storm Bret becoming the earliest to form east of the Antilles before fizzling offshore. After churning across the Gulf of Mexico, Tropical Storm Cindy dumped heavy rainfall along the coast, including the Florida Panhandle, before making landfall near Texas and Louisiana border. Parts of the Panhandle received between 8 and nearly 11 inches of rain.

2017 hurricane forecast chart
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

This season is expected to be busy, with hurricane forecasters calling for an average to above average season with between 11 and 17 named storms and at least five hurricanes.

Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich