Gaston expected to become hurricane Wednesday; disturbance strengthens

MIAMI, Aug. 24 (UPI) — Tropical Storm Gaston is expected to become a hurricane Wednesday as a separate disturbance has an 80 percent chance of becoming Tropical Storm Hermine by the weekend and possibly hitting Florida.

The center of Gaston was about 975 miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands and was moving west-northwest near 17 mph with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasts with the center predict Gaston will strengthen during the day.

No coastal warnings or watches are in effect. It’s not expected to reach the United States and will move out in the Atlantic similar to its predecessor, Fiona, according to {link:WPTV-TV “” target=”_blank”}.

But a disturbance, labeled by the hurricane center as disturbance 99L, is possibly on a path to hit Florida late Sunday or early Monday. The wave is moving northwest-west at about 15 mph across the northern Leeward Islands, then near or over Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and the Bahamas.

“This storm has the potential to be trouble,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground and a former NOAA Hurricane Hunter. “It’s one of the more significant threats to Florida in the past four years.”

No hurricane has made landfall in Florida since Hurricane Wilma in 2006. South Florida could see some impact by Saturday night.

The hurricane center said “this system could become a tropical depression at any time during the
next few days.”

It has a 60 percent chance of formation in 48 hours and 80 percent in five days.

Dan Kottlowski, an AccuWeather hurricane expert, said “the exact track of 99L will have a big impact on when the system strengthens.”

He said interaction with the mountainous terrain in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola could lead to strengthening through Thursday. He said it could become Tropical Depression Eight at any time.

“99L has the potential to become very well-organized southeast of Florida this weekend,” Kottlowski said.

If the storm becomes a tropical storm it would be named Hermine.

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