Atlantic Storm Expected to Become Hurricane as it Heads Into Caribbean
Tropical Depression Nine is expected to become a Category 1 hurricane by Thursday
CNN Wire Staff
August 21, 2012(CNN) -- Tropical Depression Nine, now moving westward across the Atlantic Ocean, is expected to become a tropical storm within the next day and a Category 1 hurricane by Thursday, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday.
On Thursday morning the tropical depression was 580 miles east of Guadeloupe in the Leeward Islands and moving west at 20 mph. Maximum sustained winds were 35 mph. It will become a tropical storm when winds exceed 38 mph and a hurricane when winds reach 74 mph.
Tropical storm watches and warnings cover much of the Leeward Islands as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Conditions are favorable for strengthening as the storm enters the northern Caribbean Sea, forecasters said.
It could become a Category 2 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds above 95 mph, as it approaches Cuba on Saturday.
Forecasters caution that the forecast track is uncertain and the storm could be anywhere from the Bahamas to the north and the Cayman Islands to the south on Saturday.
It is still too early to tell what, if any, effects the storm will have on the U.S. mainland, but there are several computer models that bring the storm into the Gulf of Mexico, while others move the storm further east.
With roughly 50,000 people headed for Tampa, Florida, for the Republican National Convention August 27-30, there is heightened interest in the future path of the storm.
CNN's Dave Hennen, Brad Lendon and Sean Morris contributed to this report.