A tropical wave being tracked by hurricane forecasters blossomed into a depression in the Atlantic Thursday morning, but is expected to fizzle before reaching land.
In an 11 a.m. advisory, forecasters said the fast-moving storm intensified with sustained 35 mph winds more than 1,300 miles east, southeast of the Lesser Antilles. Over the coming day, the storm could intensify to a tropical storm as it races west. However, it's likely to encounter crippling wind shear by the weekend.
Forecasters have been watching the compact storm and expected it to intensify. The storm is the second tropical depression so far this year after Alberto got the season off to an early start in May.
The storm is one of two forecasters have been watching over the last week. A second system a few hundred miles southwest of Bermuda remained disorganized Thursday morning, but forecasters said it could strengthen as it moves east, away from the U.S. coast.
The depression to the south is currently surrounded by dry air and moving over waters that are only marginally warm, which should keep it from intensifying. But in 24 hours, it could strengthen to a tropical storm before it faces wind shear east of the Lesser Antilles.
Forecasters said the depression is located south of a sprawling subtropical ridge. A break in the ridge over the Central Atlantic could slow the storm down, before it's expected to speed up again.
Parts of the Lesser Antilles will likely still get heavy rain and gusty wind even if the system weakens, forecasters said.
In May, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters predicted the Atlantic would produce more storms than normal during the coming season. However in recent weeks, warming waters in the Pacific have hinted that an El Niño weather pattern may form, which would produce upper atmospheric winds that could help tamp down the ferocity of storms in the Atlantic.
Earlier this week, forecasters said an El Niño has a 50 percent chance of forming during the fall after September. The Atlantic season typically peaks between late August and September, however late season storms are not uncommon. In 2005, Hurricane Wilma struck South Florida's west coast in late October.