By Alex Harris, Devoun Cetoute and Michelle Marchante Miami Herald
MIAMI _ A tropical depression traveling west through the Atlantic could strengthen into Tropical Storm Josephine by Wednesday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The depression is about 1,220 miles east-southeast of the Northern Leeward Islands and is traveling west with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph and higher gusts, according to the hurricane center’s advisory at 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday.
The system is then expected to begin moving west-northwest later Wednesday, according to forecasters. By Friday, winds could reach 60 mph before weakening again.
The forecast shows the storm moving north of the Leeward Islands Saturday and passing well to the north of Puerto Rico on Sunday.
Tropical storm conditions may be possible near the Northern Leeward Islands this weekend, said Lissette Gonzalez, meteorologist with Miami Herald news partner CBS4.
The hurricane center advised that area to pay close attention to the track of the storm.
The National Hurricane Center says the storm isn’t facing too much dry air for the next few days, which could slow it down, but there’s some wind shear eating away at the western edge of the storm. Forecasters say this could cause it to weaken to a depression again as soon as Monday.
“This shear should cause the system to weaken, and several of the global models forecast it to degenerate to a tropical wave before 120 h,” forecasters wrote.
Just last week, NOAA updated its 2020 hurricane season predictions. Instead of the 13 to 19 named storms it predicted earlier in the year, the agency said it now expects 19 to 25 named storms, the most it has ever predicted.
The record-breaking 2005 hurricane season saw 30 named storms, including Katrina, Rita and Wilma, which exceeded the alphabetical list of storm names and forced scientists to name new storms after letters in the Greek alphabet.