MIAMI -

The tropics are heating up as Tropical Depression 7 continues on a westward course in the Atlantic Ocean.

In the National Hurricane Center's 5 a.m. advisory on Saturday, Tropical Depression #7 was about 235 miles east-northeast of Barbados with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. It was moving west at 24 mph.

The tropical depression was expected to continue moving in the same direction over the next 48 hours. Some strengthening was forecast, and the system could become a tropical storm late Friday. It is expected to approach the Windward Islands on Saturday, and could become a tropical storm before then.

Tropical storm watches were issued for Guadeloupe and Martinique, Dominica, St. Lucia, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.