A tropical storm is likely to develop in the northwestern Caribbean late Sunday and bring storm surges and heavy rainfall to the U.S. Gulf Coast by midweek, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
It is still too early to say how strong the storm could be, but the system is set to bring heavy rain and flash flooding to areas of Central America, western Cuba and Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula in coming days, the center said in an early morning advisory on Sunday.
The storm, called “Potential Tropical Cyclone 14,” was about 280 miles (450 KM) south southwest of the western tip of Cuba at 2 a.m. eastern time (0600 GMT), with sustained winds of 35 mph (55 km), the National Weather Service said.
If it develops into a tropical storm, it will be called Michael, the next name in the list from the hurricane center.
A hurricane center graphic showed the disturbance gaining storm-level winds of over 39 mph late Sunday and maintaining those speeds as it potentially hits the Florida coast east of Pensacola on Wednesday.
Winds were forecast to drop in intensity as the system tracks northeast over Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, reaching North Carolina by Thursday.
“There is still too much uncertainty to discuss specific impacts, but we do know there will be a HIGH rip current risk, high surf, and increased rain chances beginning Monday,” the National Weather Service Mobile/Pensacola said.