Cuba has issued a hurricane watch as a storm system brews south of Jamaica, with forecasters expecting it to gain strength as it moves northwest towards the Gulf of Mexico.
Potential Tropical Cyclone (PTC) 26 was located 90 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica, Sunday evening, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
The center said the weather system was moving northwest at 10 mph and was expected to strengthen over the next two to three days.
Forecaster said PTC 26 could be at tropical storm strength when it reaches the Cayman Islands by Monday night, and a hurricane when it moves near or over western Cuba Tuesday.
A hurricane watch is in effect for western Cuba, and the Cayman Islands has issued a tropical storm warning.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said PTC 26 could bring dangerous storm surge and hurricane conditions to portions of western Cuba and the Isle of Youth by Tuesday.
Heavy rainfall would effect portions of Hispaniola, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and western Cuba over the next few days and could lead to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, it said.
Current model projections show the system will be in the Gulf of Mexico by Wednesday, and it could potentially head north and impact portions of the northern Gulf of Mexico coast by the end of the upcoming week.
“While there is large uncertainty in the track and intensity forecasts at these time ranges, there is a risk of dangerous storm surge, wind, and rainfall hazards along the coast from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle. Residents in these areas should monitor the progress of the system and check for updates to the forecast during the week,” the National Hurricane Center warned.
NHC also cautioned that the average error in the track forecast can range anywhere from 100 to 200 miles.
The Greek alphabet is now being used to name tropical storms and hurricanes, and Delta will be the next letter used.
Tropical Storm Gamma stalls along Yucatan
Meantime, Tropical Storm Gamma is hovering along Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula as it meanders slowly southwest, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.
The storm is expected to turn toward the west or west-southwest tonight or Monday, and a slow southwestward motion should continue Monday night through early Wednesday.
On the forecast track, the center of Gamma will head offshore of the northern Yucatan Peninsula and over the extreme southern Gulf of Mexico Sunday and pass near or just offshore of the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula on Monday and Tuesday.
Gradual weakening is anticipated later tonight or on Monday and continuing Tuesday.
Tropical storm force conditions along with heavy to torrential rainfall will continue to impact the northern Yucatan Peninsula through Tuesday as it slowly tracks through the region.
An additional 2 to 4 inches of rainfall are forecast across the northern Yucatan and far western Cuba, with locally higher amounts possible.
In the Campeche and Tabasco region, 6 to 8 inches of rainfall are expected with this system through mid-week, which poses a dangerous flash flooding and mudslide threat.