MIAMI (AP) — A tropical depression that is forecast to strengthen to near hurricane intensity by early next week formed Friday afternoon in warm waters off South Florida.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Tropical Depression 19 emerged about 80 miles (130 kilometers) east-southeast of Miami and is moving west-northwest at 8 mph (13 kph) with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph).
The depression is forecast to move inland over South Florida early Saturday before passing into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico later in the day. The system is expected to approach near-hurricane intensity by early next week as it moves across the northeastern Gulf, according to the Miami-based center.
A tropical storm watch was issued Friday for the coast of southeastern Florida from south of Jupiter Inlet to north of Ocean Reef. The watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the area for the next 6 to 12 hours.
Forecasters warned the system could pose a threat in coming days anywhere along the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to southeastern Louisiana. Those impacts could include storm surge, wind, and heavy rains, according to the hurricane center.
Tropical storms Paulette and Rene are already moving through the Atlantic Ocean, meaning the next storm to reach sustained winds of 39 mph (63 kph) would be named Tropical Storm Sally.