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Tropical Depression #1 Forms In Caribbean, Unclear If It Will Hit Oiled Gulf

Tropical WeatherWeather WarningsMexicoHurricanes and Tropical StormsMeteorological DisastersEnvironmental Pollution

The first tropical depression of the Atlantichurricane season formed Friday in the Western Caribbean, butforecasters can't yet say if it will pass over the massive oilspill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami saidFriday the storm has winds of about 35 mph (55 kph). Most stormprediction models show it traveling over the Yucatan Peninsula ofMexico over the weekend and into the southern Gulf by Monday,hurricane center specialist Michael Brennan said. It was expectedto strengthen to a tropical storm sometime Saturday.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the east coast of theYucatan Peninsula, which separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulfof Mexico.

It's too early to tell if the storm will hit the northeasternpart of the Gulf, where the spill has spread over the past 10weeks, Brennan said. Somewhere between 69 million and 132 milliongallons of crude have spewed into the water since the rig DeepwaterHorizon exploded April 20, killing 11 workers.

The storm raises concerns over what might happen to efforts tocontain the oil if BP is forced to abandon the area for a while. Anarmada of ships is working in the Gulf.

A cap has been placed over the blown-out undersea well and it iscarrying some of the oil to a surface ship where it is beingcollected. Some of the oil is being brought to the surface andburned. Other ships are drilling two relief wells, projected to bedone by August, and are the best hope to stop the leak.

Some models have the storm heading toward the spill, but othersdo not, and forecasters can't speculate about what rough weatherwould do to oil in the water, Brennan said.

The depression is on track to reach the peninsula by lateSaturday. It is about 345 miles (555 km) east-southeast ofChetumal.

Meanwhile in the Pacific, two major hurricanes are swirling butdon't pose an immediate threat to land. Darby is a Category 3storm, with maximum sustained winds near 115 mph (185 kph).

The hurricane is located about 265 miles (425 kilometers)southwest of Acapulco, Mexico. It's heading west-northwest near 6mph (9 kph).

Hurricane Celia has weakened to a Category 3 storm farther outin the Pacific. Celia's maximum sustained winds have decreased tonear 120 mph (195 kph). The hurricane center says Celia isapproaching cooler waters and is expected to continue weakening.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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