Tropical Depression 19 formed in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday, just 80 miles east-southeast of Miami, the National Hurricane Center said.
South Florida from south of the Jupiter Inlet to north of Ocean Reef is under a tropical storm watch, meaning low-grade tropical storm conditions are possible in the next 6 to 12 hours, the hurricane center said.
The system has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph and is moving west-northwest at 8 mph, according to the hurricane center’s latest public advisory.
Tropical Depression 19 is forecast to move inland over South Florida early on Saturday, and then move into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico later in the day. Tropical storm or hurricane watches could be issued for a portion of the Gulf Coast tonight or on Saturday, the hurricane center said.
The National Hurricane Center is monitoring a total of six systems in the Atlantic, including Tropical Storm Paulette, Tropical Storm Rene, and Tropical Depression 19.
[ FORECAST MAP: See active tracks of hurricanes and tropical storms ]
A second trough of low pressure developed Thursday morning over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. It is forecast to move over the northern and western Gulf of Mexico through early next week. It has a 20% chance of development.
Meanwhile, Rene is expected to strengthen into the season’s fifth hurricane. It is expected to reach near-hurricane strength by late Friday and become a hurricane by Saturday, the hurricane center said Friday. Category 1 hurricanes form when maximum sustained winds are in the range of 73 to 95 mph.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, Rene was about 1,165 miles west-northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands with top winds measuring 40 mph. It was moving west-northwest at 14 mph. Tropical-storm-force winds extended 70 miles from its center. Models predict Rene to continue moving west before turning toward the northern Atlantic.
Further west, Tropical Storm Paulette is expected to become a hurricane on Saturday and bring hazardous conditions to Bermuda on Sunday night and into Monday, the hurricane center said.
Swells produced by the storm, potentially causing life-threatening surf and rip current conditions, are expected to affect areas including the southeast U.S. this weekend.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, Paulette is about 750 miles northeast of the Northern Leeward Islands, moving at 13 mph with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 205 miles from its center.
Paulette and Rene, the season’s 16th and 17 named storms, both formed in the Atlantic on Monday. Models indicate the storms’ tracks will stay offshore, posing no threat to Florida or the United States.
The National Hurricane Center said that two more tropical depressions could form soon from waves over Africa.
A tropical wave that emerged off Africa’s west coast on Thursday is likely to become a tropical depression late this week or over the weekend as it moves across the eastern tropical Atlantic. It has been given a 90% chance of development.
Another tropical wave is expected to emerge in the same area over the weekend and travel east. Forecasters said it could become a tropical depression early next week. It has been given a 40% chance of development.
This is the time of year when storms tend to form in the open Atlantic, particularly near the Cabo Verde Islands. Those storms, which grow in size and intensity as they make the long trek westward across the Atlantic Ocean, are historically the most powerful and destructive hurricanes.
So far, there have been 17 tropical storms and four hurricanes this season, which runs from June 1-Nov. 30.
Laura was the season’s first major hurricane, making landfall in Cameron, La., as a Category 4 on Aug. 27. Hanna, Isaias and Marco were Category 1 hurricanes that made landfall in Padre Island, Texas; Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.; and at the mouth of the Mississippi River, respectively.
Pauline and Rene set records for earliest “P” and “R” storms in any Atlantic hurricane season, breaking the record held by Philippe and Rita back in 2005, according to Colorado State University Meteorologist Phil Klotzbach.
The remaining monikers for named storms this season in the Atlantic are: Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred. Any storms after Wilfred would be named after letters in the Greek alphabet. That has only happened once — in the 2005 hurricane season, according to The Weather Channel.
The tropical weather experts at Colorado State University predicted that 2020 could possibly be the second-busiest season on record, behind only 2005, the year that produced Katrina and Wilma. In August, the federal government issued an updated forecast for the season, predicting as many as 25 storms, which is more than the agency has ever forecast.