First tropical depression of the 2010 Atlantic season forms in the Caribbean
Live radar, 7-day outlook
- Caribbean disturbance becomes less organized overnight
- Caribbean disturbance continues to organize
- Caribbean disturbance strengthens
- Tropics clear
- Tropical system in Caribbean fizzling
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The weather system that might threaten efforts to stop the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, or drive ashore what's already spread, is now the season's first tropical depression - and as early as today, may be its first Tropical Storm: Alex.
The depression - denoting a tighter, more defined system - is far from South Florida, and mostly of interest only to those who keep box scores, though it is expected to steer rain to the area. But there is the threat to the gulf, so it's getting more attention than any of the many waves and depressions that come and go in June.
According to the National Hurricane Center's 6 p.m. tropical weather outlook, "Tropical Depression One" has become better organized as it approaches the Yucatan Peninsula, and is "expected" to become a tropical storm tonight or Saturday.
It has sustained winds of about 35 miles per hour, with higher gusts, the outlook said. It is still moving west-northwest at about 10 miles per hour, and should continue on that track "for the next couple of days," the forecast said.
An Air Force plane flew into it Friday to confirm see if it already was a depression.
The storm was expected to reach the Yucatan by late Saturday, and models have it either continuing west into Mexico or north, which could bring it in contact with the spill according to Dave Roberts, a U.S. Navy hurricane specialist assigned to the National Hurricane Center.
"The picture will probably come a little clearer over the weekend," Roberts said. Rain chances were forecast to jump from about 20 percent today to 70 percent Saturday and Sunday in Palm Beach County, and 50 percent in the Treasure Coast.
Forecasters did say most of the rainfall associated with the system will stay south of the region, but said one to two inches could fall in areas from Miami and Naples to Palm Beach County between Friday night and Sunday night.
The Treasure Coast will be yet further from the action.
Staff writer Sonja Isger contributed to this story.