A slow-moving tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico is forecast to turn into a tropical storm Friday and could reach hurricane-level strength this weekend, forecasters said. They are also watching another tropical wave in the Atlantic that is forecast to turn into a tropical depression or tropical storm by the end of the week.
Whichever system turns into a tropical storm first would be named Wilfred and would become the 21st named storm — and the last name on the list for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Any other storms that form would then be named after the Greek alphabet, beginning with Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Hurricane Teddy, a powerful Category 4 storm, is continuing to move toward Bermuda. Also on forecasters’ radar: Post-tropical cyclone Paulette is moving in the far away Atlantic, a small low pressure system is nearing Portugal and a new tropical wave is forecast to move off the west coast of Africa by early Saturday.
Here’s what to know:
Will Tropical Storm Wilfred form in the Gulf of Mexico?
Tropical Depression 22 is about 245 miles east-northeast of Tampico, Mexico, and about 285 miles southeast of the mouth of the Rio Grande early Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
While the depression is still not very well organized, it is forecast to turn into a tropical storm later Friday and will likely be the one to snag the name Wilfred. Forecasters are also predicting that it could near or reach Category 1 hurricane-level strength by Sunday as it slowly moves over the western Gulf of Mexico, according to the hurricane center. It will then likely inch closer to the northern Mexico or southern Texas coast.
However, forecasters are cautioning that their confidence in the system’s track remains low and that people should not focus on the exact forecast track, especially since the “depression’s movement has been unsteady since it formed yesterday.”
Forecasters say the system is also expected to begin interacting with a cold front and drier, more stable air by early next week which could help stop it from continuing to strengthen and may even weaken it.
“The most certain aspect of the forecast is that the depression will not be moving anywhere very quickly well into next week,” forecasters wrote.
As of 5 a.m., it was moving toward the north-northeast near 6 mph and has maximum sustained winds near 35 mph with higher gusts, according to the hurricane center.
Forecasters say it’s also too early to tell which areas could see direct wind, storm surge and rainfall from this system, though they are expecting swells to increase and reach the coast of Texas and the Gulf coast of Mexico over the weekend, possibly causing life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
While there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect yet, forecasters are asking those with interests in the western Gulf of Mexico coast to continue monitoring the progress of the depression.
Will Tropical Storm Alpha form in the Atlantic?
Forecasters are also closely watching a tropical wave that is showing more showers and thunderstorm activity a few hundred miles southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands.
“Earlier satellite-derived wind data indicated that this system does not yet have a well-defined center, but it is producing winds near tropical-storm-force to its east. Environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for additional development during the next day or two and a tropical depression or tropical storm could form before the end of the week,” forecasters wrote.
The system has a 70 percent chance of tropical cyclone formation in the next 2 to 5 days. If it turns into a tropical storm and Wilfred already exists, it would be called Tropical Storm Alpha.
How strong will Hurricane Teddy be when it nears Bermuda?
Hurricane Teddy, a powerful Category 4 storm, is moving toward the northwest near 12 mph and has maximum sustained winds near 130 mph with higher gusts, according to the hurricane center.
It was about 550 miles east-northeast of the Northern Leeward Islands and about 935 miles southeast of Bermuda, according to the 5 a.m advisory.
“The major hurricane will likely maintain its intensity, or fluctuate in strength, during the next day or so while it remains in generally favorable conditions of low wind shear, warm waters, and a fairly moist air mass,” forecasters wrote.
However, Teddy is also expected to see some slight weakening as it enters cooler waters left behind by Paulette and is forecast to be a strong Category 2 hurricane, nearly a Category 3, by the time it approaches Bermuda this weekend, according to the hurricane center.
“By the end of the weekend, when Teddy will likely be approaching Bermuda, a turn to the north or north-northeast is forecast to occur as a mid- to upper-level trough moves closer to the system. However, the trough is expected to cut off, causing Teddy to turn slightly to the left early next week and approach Atlantic Canada in 4 to 5 days” as a Category 1 hurricane.
The return of Paulette?
Paulette, which struck Bermuda as a Category 2 hurricane last week before rocketing off to the colder waters of the south, might make a comeback. As of the 8 a.m. update, forecasters said the post-tropical cyclone is due to move quickly southward for the next few days and then stall over “marginally” warmer waters.
“The cyclone could subsequently redevelop tropical characteristics late this weekend or early next week while it moves little,” they wrote.
The hurricane center gave Paulette a 20 percent chance of reforming in the next two days and 30 percent in the next five.
That’s a slightly higher chance that the disturbance to its east, which forecasters said was more likely to move inland over the coast of Portugal as a crowd of thunderstorms than as anything stronger. They gave it a 20 percent chance of forming in the next few days.
The hurricane center is also watching another tropical wave that has yet to roll off the coast of Africa. They said it had no chance of developing in the next two days but a 20 percent shot at strengthening in the next five days.