PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Tropical Storm Gonzalo could still strengthen into a hurricane, though forecasters said Thursday that the system faces “an uncertain future.”
Gonzalo, which set a record as the earliest named “G” storm in the Atlantic Ocean, was located about 810 miles east of the southern Windward Islands at around 5 p.m. Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center. It’s packing 60 mph sustained winds with higher gusts, though that’s a weakening from 65 mph winds reported earlier.
Those sustained winds would need to reach 74 mph for Gonzalo to become the first hurricane of this Atlantic season.
It’s a small tropical cyclone moving toward the west at 13 mph, with an increase in forward speed expected through the weekend, the hurricane center says. On the forecast track, the center of Gonzalo will approach the southern Windward Islands Friday night and move across the islands Saturday and Saturday evening.
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, meaning that hurricane conditions are possible within that. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Tobago and Grenada.
The system is expected to stay well South of Florida, and weakening is expected after Gonzalo moves into the Caribbean Sea.
Gonzalo broke a record for the earliest “G” storm set by Tropical Storm Gert, which formed on July 24, 2005. So far this year, Cristobal, Danielle, Edouard and Fay also set records for being the earliest named Atlantic storms of their respective place in the alphabet.
The first hurricane of the eastern Pacific season formed far from land on Wednesday. Hurricane Douglas was centered about 1,785 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, on Wednesday morning with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.
Tropical Depression 8
Meanwhile, Tropical Depression 8 is getting better organized over the central Gulf of Mexico, with forecasters calling for heavy rains over portions of Texas by this weekend.
Maximum sustained winds have been reported near 35 mph with higher gusts, and the depression is expected to become a tropical storm tonight, forecasters say.
The next named storm will be Hanna.
At 5 p.m. the depression was about 430 miles east-southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, moving in a west-northwestward to westward direction. On the forecast track, the center of the depression is expected to move across the northwestern Gulf of Mexico today and Friday and make landfall along the Texas coast on Saturday, according to the hurricane center.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Port Mansfield to San Luis Pass, Texas. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for San Luis Pass to High Island, Texas.
And another one
On Thursday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center was also tracking a tropical wave near the coast of Africa that is expected to head west across the tropical Atlantic over the next several days.
It has a low chance of developing into a tropical storm in the next five days, but some development is possible when the system reaches the western tropical Atlantic early next week, forecasters say.