A tropical depression off the African coast is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by Wednesday, when it will still be in the middle of the Atlantic.
The threat to land is unclear, although the range of possible paths appear pointed north of Florida in the general direction of Bermuda.
The depression, which has sustained winds of 35 miles per hour, was expected to reach tropical storm strength Monday night or Tuesday morning. It would be given the name Gaston.
At 5 p.m., the storm was located 360 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the African coast. It was moving west at 18 miles per hour.
The depression appeared as the former Tropical Storm Fiona weakened to a depression and was expected to dissipate in the coming days.
As the new depression strengthens, it is? expected to bend to the northwest on Tuesday. It’s forecast to reach hurricane force on Wednesday, with winds of at least 74 miles per hour, according to the hurricane center.
Fueling the storm’s strength is the warm surface of the ocean along its path. Also wind shear, the high-level winds that interfere with the development of rotating storms, is light. These conditions are expected to last for three days, after which strengthening wind shear may inhibit further strengthening.
A third system, located about 750 miles from the Caribbean, is given a 50 percent chance of organizing into a tropical cyclone over the next five days, according to the National Hurricane Center. A tropical cyclone is a circular storm system classified by wind strength from tropical depression to tropical storm to hurricane.
The system will hit some weakening dry air during the next couple of days but conditions could become more favorable as the system approaches Hispaniola and the Bahamas later this week. It’s too soon to say whether the storm will be a threat to land. An Air Force Hurricane Hunter airplane is preparing to investigate the storm Tuesday, if necessary, the hurricane center said.
Tropical depression off Africa expected to become hurricane – Sun Sentinel