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NHC says Caribbean system could be next tropical depression

While massive Hurricane Fiona and Tropical Storm Gaston churn in the Atlantic, the National Hurricane Center is tracking three more systems with potential development including one likely to become the next tropical depression within days headed toward the Caribbean.

As of the NHC’s 8 a.m. tropical outlook, the tropical wave located a couple hundred miles east of the southern Windward Islands is producing shower and thunderstorm activity with continued signs of organization.

“It will likely become a tropical depression within the next couple of days,” said NHC hurricane specialist Lisa Bucci. “The disturbance is forecast to move west-northwestward across the southern Windward Islands today and then move toward the central Caribbean Sea later this week.”

Heavy rainfall and winds are expected on the southern Leewards and could bring more to Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao,, northwestern Venezuela and northeastern Colombia later this week, she said.

The system has a 70% chance to form within two days and 90% chance in the next five.

If it grows further, it could become Tropical Storm Hermine.

Many long-term weather forecast models show the system curling toward the north in the central Caribbean by next week with some having it pass over Cuba and becoming a potential threat to the Florida peninsula.

The other two potential systems are farther east in the Atlantic including one located several hundred miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands that could see slow development over the next several days as it moves northwestward and then westward over the tropical Atlantic. The NHC gives it a 20% chance to form in the next two days and 30% in the next five.

The other is off the west coast of Africa projected to move slowly to the north between the African coast and the Cabo Verde Islands. The NHC gives it a 20% chance to form in the next two days and 50% chance to form in the next five days.

Whichever system gets to sustained winds of 39 mph or more would take the name Hermine with the next names on the hurricane list being Ian and Julia.

Of the two named systems already, Hurricane Fiona continues to intensify as it moves north away from the Turks and Caicos islands in the Atlantic, now a Category 4 hurricane.

As of 11 a.m. the center of the hurricane was located about 675 miles southwest of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph moving north at 8 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend out up to 45 miles with tropical-storm-force winds extending out 160 miles.

A tropical storm warning and hurricane watch is in place for Bermuda as the system is expected to grow in strength to as much as 140 mph sustained winds with 165 mph gusts. The projected path, though, takes the center to the west of the island as it speeds up heading for Canada.

The storm is expected to lose some force, but remain a Category 4 hurricane as it makes potential landfall in Nova Scotia on Saturday before transitioning to an extratropical storm.

The system left catastrophic rains as it carved its way over the northern Leewards killing one person in the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe, then dumping as much as 30 inches of rain over Puerto Rico, where it’s been blamed for two deaths, and as much as 20 inches on the Dominican Republic where one death has been reported. The deluge has flooded much of the islands damaging roads while the winds took out power for all of Puerto Rico over the weekend.

The Associated Press reported that by late Tuesday, authorities said they had restored power to nearly 380,000 of the island’s 1.47 million customers. Piped water service was initially knocked out for most of the Island’s users due to lack of power and turbid water at filtration plants, but 55% had service Wednesday morning.

While not a threat to Florida, the swells from Fiona that were reaching wave heights close to 50 feet high on Monday are spreading to the west and could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions on the U.S. East Coast including Florida as well as the Bahamas.

The other named system, Tropical Storm Gaston, formed Tuesday in the northern mid-Atlantic.

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, Gaston was located about 775 miles west of the Azores islands with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph moving northeast at 16 mph with tropical-storm-force winds extending out 70 miles.

While the system is projected to grow to near hurricane strength, Gaston is not expected to threaten land before transitioning to an extratropical system after the weekend.

Since Sept. 1, the tropics have begun to play catchup churning out four named storms in three weeks after nearly two months of quiet.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in early August updated its season prediction that 2022 would still be above-average with 14 to 21 named storms, although not a single named storm formed in the month of August.

The 2020 hurricane season set a record with 30 named systems, while 2021′s season was the third most active with 21 named systems. An average year calls for 14 named storms.

Through Gaston, 2022 has produced seven named systems.

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