The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Delta has formed in the Southern Caribbean, the 25th named storm of the year. On its current path, it is likely to become the fourth hurricane to threaten the U.S. Gulf Coast this year.
Meteorologists say the storm has formed earlier in the year than any other 25th named Atlantic storm on record, beating the old record by a month.
At last report, the storm was about 265 kilometers south-southwest of Negril, Jamaica, with maximum sustained winds of about 95 kph (59 mph) and was moving to the west at about 11 kph (6.8 mph).
Forecasters believe it could strengthen to hurricane status by late Monday or early Tuesday as it nears western Cuba.
Hurricane warnings and watches have been posted for that area of Cuba, and a hurricane warning is in effect for the Isle of Youth just south of Cuba.
The Hurricane Center reports Delta is expected to travel across the very warm waters of the northwestern Caribbean Sea and encounter very low vertical wind shear during the next couple of days, allowing for significant strengthening over that time.
The current forecast track of Delta would put it at or near the coast of Louisiana by Friday. The region has already this year been hit by hurricanes Hanna, Laura and Sally and tropical storms Marco and Beta.
Meanwhile in the western Caribbean, Tropical Storm Gamma is expected to move inland over southeast Mexico later Monday and through Tuesday, after pummeling the Yucatan Peninsula on Saturday.
The storm reportedly knocked down trees, flooded streets and took out power in much of the area. The storm is expected to weaken over the next few days, though it could produce as much as 15 centimeters (6 inches) of rain in some areas.