A tropical depression formed off the African coast Friday afternoon, signaling an end to the lull in the hurricane season as forecasters keep watch on a wave headed for the Gulf of Mexico.
In a 5 p.m. advisory, National Hurricane Center forecasters said the small storm had sustained winds of 35 mph, but was expected to intensify and become Tropical Storm Florence sometime Friday evening. Weaker wind shear will likely allow the storm to intensify over the next two to three days as it heads west. However, before it nears the U.S., cooler ocean temperatures and a return in wind shear should cause it to weaken again without becoming a hurricane.
Closer to home, wind shear continued to tamp down a wave near Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
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The system will likely spread rain throughout the Labor Day weekend across Florida and the islands, including the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, as it move west, northwest, forecasters said. Over the next two to three days, wind shear should continue to block development. But as it moves into the Gulf over warm waters next week, those upper level winds could weaken.
Some models predict it will strengthen to a depression earlier in the week. But Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters said in his blog that more recent model runs maintain the strong shear and a disorganized system.
Hurricane center forecasters on Friday continued to call for low odds for development over the next five days, with just a 10 percent chance for a depression.