A tropical depression churning across the southern Caribbean could become Tropical Storm Nate on track to hit the Gulf Coast, and possibly Florida, as a hurricane over the weekend.
In their 8 p.m. Wednesday advisory, National Hurricane Center forecasters said the storm is moving over warm waters and encountering light wind shear that could allow quick intensification. Its possible sustained winds could reach 85 mph in three days, making it a Category 1 storm as it approaches the Gulf Coast on Saturday. Wednesday evening forecasters upped their intensity forecast from earlier in the day, but said there’s still a chance the storm could weaken as it crosses Central America and the Yucatan.
At 8 p.m., the depression was located 60 miles west of San Andres Island off the coast of Nicaragua, where it could dump up to 20 inches of rain and trigger dangerous mudslides and flash flooding, National Hurricane Center forecasters said. Sustained winds reached 35 mph.
The storm is expected to move across northeastern Nicaragua early Thursday and eastern Honduras late Thursday, bringing heavy rain along much of the Central American coast.
Forecasters said it remains too early to say where the storm will impact the Gulf Coast. The storm is being steered by a high pressure ridge over the southwest Atlantic, but a low-pressure trough moving across the Florida Straits could force it to move more quickly toward the north-northwest by Friday and into the Gulf of Mexico Saturday. How much land it crosses could also weaken it, complicating the track forecast.
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