Tropical depression could form in Atlantic, head toward Puerto Rico, hurricane forecasters say
Times-Picayune, The (New Orleans, LA)
Hurricane forecasters on Wednesday were tracking a disturbance in the Atlantic that could develop into a tropical depression and make its way toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Update: Tropical depression forms in Atlantic
The system became better organized overnight and "only a slight increase in organization" would lead to the formation of a tropical depression, forecasters said in their 7 a.m. outlook.
It has a 70% chance of developing into a tropical depression within 48 hours, according to the National Hurricane Center. The next available name is Fiona, if it strengthens into a tropical storm.
Where is it going?
As of 7 a.m., the system was about 800 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. It is heading west, but it is too early to accurately say where it could go if it develops.
Forecasters advised residents in the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to monitor this system.
Related: 60+ nonperishable items to consider for your emergency kit
The shaded area on the graphic is where a storm could develop and is not a track. The National Hurricane Center releases a track when a tropical depression forms or is about to form.
The categories, in order of increasing strength, are tropical depression, tropical storm and hurricane (categories 1 through 5).
Regardless of development, the system is expected to be gusty winds and heavy rainfall to parts of the Leeward Islands on Friday and Saturday.
The Gulf of Mexico is expected to stay quiet for the next 48 hours, forecasters said.
Busiest time of the season
This is historically the busiest time of the Atlantic hurricane season.
In the last 100 years, the tropics have been the most active in August, September and October, with Sept. 10 being the peak of the season, according to federal forecasters. About 80% of the systems that have hit the Gulf Coast formed during this time, according to the National Weather Service in Slidell.
So far, there have been five named storms this season - Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle and Earl. The next available name is Fiona.
Hurricane season ends Nov. 30, but storms can form any time.
On the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, the wind categories are:
Tropical depression: up to 38 mphTropical storm: 39 to 73 mphCategory 1 hurricane: 74 to 95 mphCategory 2 hurricane: 96 to 110 mphCategory 3 hurricane (major hurricane): 111 to 129 mphCategory 4 hurricane: 130-156 mphCategory 5 hurricane: 157 mph and higher
What to do now
Now is the time to review hurricane plans and make sure your property is ready for hurricane season.
Here are some tips from the National Weather Service for how to prepare for the season:
Put together an emergency kit. Here are 60+ nonperishable items to consider including.Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and storm shutters.Make a plan with your family or close friends and decide how you will get in touch and where you will go if there's an emergency. Here's how to decide if you should evacuate.Plan your evacuation route and have an alternate route. Here are 15 things to do before evacuating.Make a plan for your pets. Here are some tips.If you have a generator, check it and see if any maintenance needs to be done. Don't forget these important generator safety tips.Do any maintenance you've been putting off on your vehicle.Review your insurance policies.Keep your trees around your home trimmed to prevent damage from broken branches. Here's advice from gardening expert Dan Gill.Have materials in advance to board windows to protect them from flying debris.
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