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Tropical depression could become major hurricane after it reaches Gulf; see forecast

Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center
Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center

A tropical depression formed in the Caribbean early Friday, one that could be near major hurricane status when it reaches the Gulf of Mexico next week, National Hurricane Center forecasters said.

The latest track from NHC shows this potential hurricane being a problem for Florida, though forecasters warned Friday the track is still uncertain. Gulf residents, particularly those in the eastern part of the region, should monitor the storm’s track, according to NHC.

Hannah Lisney, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Slidell, said Louisiana residents should stay alert and monitor the forecast for changes, and prepare their hurricane plans in case the storm moves west.

“Shifts in the track and the cone are still possible at this point,” Lisney said.

Here’s what we know about the tropical depression in the Caribbean as of 10 a.m. Friday.

Tropical Depression 9

Forecasters said around 10 a.m. Friday that the system was about 515 miles east southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.

The storm, currently in the Caribbean, has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. It continues to move northwest, toward the Gulf, at 14 mph.

The depression is expected to slowly strengthen over the next day or so, according to forecasters. It is expected to become a tropical storm by tonight and approach Jamaica as one on Sunday. More significant intensification is in the forecast, with the storm predicted to become a hurricane on Monday when it moves toward the Cayman Islands.

There are no watches or warnings in effect at this time, though forecasters said Jamaica and the Cayman Islands should closely monitor the progress of this system.

Heavy rainfall could cause flash flooding and mudslides in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. Jamaica, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands should also anticipate heavy rains in the coming days.

Hurricane Season 2022

Following two hectic hurricane seasons, particularly for Louisiana, meteorologists expect 2022 to be a busy year for the tropics as well, despite a slow start.

As of Friday, forecasters were also monitoring a hurricane, a tropical storm, a second tropical depression and a system with a low chance of development.

Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center
Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center

Fiona was a Category 4 hurricane as it made its way toward Canada on Friday morning, according to NHC forecasts. The powerful storm was about 600 miles south of Nova Scotia, and various parts of eastern Canada had hurricane warnings already in effect. The storm is expected to make landfall in Canada as a powerful hurricane, though weakened from its current 130 mph winds, by tonight or Saturday morning.

Tropical Storm Gaston was about 115 miles north of central Azores Islands on Friday morning. The islands are expected to see heavy rain today and Saturday as the tropical storm moves west.

Tropical Depression 10 formed Friday morning, shortly after the one being monitored in the Caribbean. It is 305 miles east northeast of the Cabo Verde Islands and is expected to be short-lived, according to NHC.

Despite a slow start to the season, hurricane forecasters still predict 14 to 21 named storms this season, including three to six major hurricanes, which would have wind speeds at 111 mph or higher.

So far, names Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona and Gaston have been used. After the tropical depression in the Caribbean likely forms into the named storm Hermine, Ian is the next name available.

Unlike in years past, when forecasters had to pull from the Greek alphabet after all available storm names were used up, NHC will no longer use names like Zeta or Delta. Instead, forecasters will use names from a supplemental list.

Storms are categorized per the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale: Tropical depression (below 38 mph), Tropical Storm (39-73 mph), Category 1 (74-95 mph), Category 2 (96-110 mph), Category 3 (111-129 mph), Category 4 (130-156 mph) and Category 5 (more than 157 mph).

For more information on the tropical depression and other disturbances monitored by NHC,click here.

Carly Berlin is the New Orleans Reporter for WWNO and WRKF. She focuses on housing, transportation, and city government. Previously, she was the Gulf Coast Correspondent for Southerly, where her work focused on disaster recovery across south Louisiana during two record-breaking hurricane seasons. Much of that reporting centered on the aftermath of Hurricanes Laura and Delta in Lake Charles, and was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center.
Katelyn Umholtz is the digital editor for WWNO and WRKF and is based out of New Orleans.