Chances increase for disturbance to become tropical depression

Parts of Florida could be impacted; next named storm will be Zeta

ORLANDO, Fla. – An area of low pressure could develop into a tropical depression and move toward the Sunshine State.

A broad area of low pressure near Grand Cayman Island is producing a large area of showers and thunderstorms, mainly southeast of its center.

The system has become better organized and a tropical depression could form during the next couple of days while the low moves to the northwest.

The National Hurricane Center says the low has a 70% chance to develop tropical characteristics over the next two days. The next named storm will be called Zeta.

The system could move near western Cuba by Sunday and head slowly across the southeastern Gulf of Mexico by early next week.

Regardless of development, heavy rainfall will be possible over portions of the Cayman Islands, Cuba, the Keys, South Florida and the northwestern Bahamas through the weekend.

Meanwhile, a weakened Hurricane Epsilon is moving northward over the Atlantic Ocean, a day after after skirting well east of Bermuda.

Epsilon’s top sustained winds fell Thursday to 85 mph, dropping it from a Category 2 to a Category 1 storm.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Epsilon was about 195 miles east of Bermuda on Friday morning.

Bermuda weather officials on Thursday evening had discontinued a tropical storm warning for the Atlantic island.

Gradual weakening is expected into the weekend, but large ocean swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions along the coasts of New England and Atlantic Canada in coming days.

Epsilon is the earliest 26th-named storm on record.

About the Authors: