Tropical Depression 5 formed in the Central Atlantic on Wednesday afternoon, and it's forecast to strengthen into a hurricane within five days.
Early Thursday the weather system was moving toward the west at a faster clip but had not become any better organized overnight.
For now, the projected path would keep the system south of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba. If that prediction holds, its threat to Florida would be reduced.
However, long-range tropical forecasts can hold large errors.
At 5 a.m. on Thursday, TD-5 was 565 miles east of the Windward Islands, moving west at a brisk 21 mph while its sustained winds remained at 35 mph. The weather system is still nearly 2,000 miles southeast of Miami.
Forecasters say no significant strengthening is expected until after today. A hurricane hunter plane is scheduled to investigate TD-5 later today.
The system is eventually expected to strengthen into Tropical Storm Ernesto.
A tropical storm watch is in effect for several of the islands, including Barbados, St. Vincent, the Grenadines, Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Under the initial forecast track, the system would approach the central Lesser Antilles on Friday, be south of Puerto Rico on Saturday and move south of Haiti on Sunday as a tropical storm. It would brush the southern shore of Jamaica as a minimal hurricane on Monday.
Another tropical wave in the Caribbean is expected to increase South Florida’s rain chances starting on Friday and over the weekend.
Meanwhile, an unrelated line of severe storms washed northeastward from western Broward County around 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, prompting a Thunderstorm Warning for about one hour.
A funnel cloud was spotted near Hiatus and McNab roads in Tamarac but there were no reports of any damage from winds that gusted to more than 35 mph.
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