Tropical Depression South of Cuba to Gain Power Heading North

A tropical depression gaining power south of Cuba will probably be named Zeta by Sunday as it travels north into the Gulf of Mexico, where it would poised to become the record 11th storm to hit the U.S. in a single year.

The depression, the weakest form of storm that includes hurricanes, has winds of 30 miles (48 kilometers) per hour as it moves northwest about 225 miles south of Cuba’s western tip, the U.S.National Hurricane Center said in an advisory at 5 p.m. New York time. On its current track, which is subject to change, it could brush the edge of the offshore oil and natural gas fields near Louisiana that have seen numerous shut-ins this season.

“Slow strengthening is forecast during the next 72 hours, and the system is expected to become a tropical storm on Sunday and could become a hurricane over the southwest Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday,” Eric Blake, a senior hurricane specialist at the center, said in his forecast.

When its winds reach 39 miles per hour it will become a tropical storm and be named.

So many storms have formed this year the hurricane center has run out of official names and has started using Greek letters to designate systems. The U.S. has been particularly hard hit with Hurricanes Isaias, Laura, Hanna, Sally, and Delta all striking the coastline, causing billions of dollars in damage. A handful of tropical storms have hit the U.S. as well.

While some storms, including Isaias and Fay, hit the East Coast, the majority of systems struck the Gulf Coast between Texas and Florida. That includes Hurricanes Laura and Delta, which both came ashore near Cameron, Louisiana, providing a double dose of misery for residents in the western part of the state. The latest storm will probably also strike Louisiana, making it the fifth to do so in 2020.

A typical Atlantic hurricane season only spins up 12 storms, and only 2005 produced more systems than this year, with 28. The six-month season theoretically ends on Nov. 30 but a number of storms formed before the season’s official start date of June 1 this year, and some meteorologists think they could keep coming into December.

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