The U.S. National Hurricane Center is predicting a storm system in the Gulf of Mexico – the remnants of what was once Pacific Hurricane Agatha – will become the first named storm of the Atlantic season later Friday as it churns east.
Forecasters have posted tropical storm warnings for much of southern and central Florida, northwestern Cuba and the northwestern Bahamas.
In the latest report, the storm system was about 200 kilometers north of Cozumel, Mexico and about 675 kilometers southwest of Ft. Myers, Florida.
Its maximum sustained winds were reported to be about 65 kilometers per hour, putting it at minimum tropical storm strength.
Should it officially become a tropical storm, it will be named Alex.
The hurricane center reports the system is expected to develop a well-defined center and become a tropical storm later Friday. It says some slight strengthening is possible as it approaches Florida Friday and Friday night.
The system is forecast to move across the southeastern Gulf of Mexico through
tonight, across the southern and central portions of the Florida peninsula Saturday, and then into the Atlantic north of the northwestern Bahamas Saturday afternoon through Sunday.
Heavy rains and damaging winds are likely in the warning areas with as much as 20 to 25 centimeters of rain, along with the potential for flash flooding in urban areas and mudslides in rural areas with elevation.