Caribbean Tropical Depression Forecast to Be First Major Hurricane to Hit U.S. This Year

A tropical depression formed Thursday in the Caribbean and could become a major hurricane by the time it reaches the U.S., the first one to hit this year, forecasters said.

The National Hurricane Center said Tropical Depression Nine is expected to strengthen into a tropical storm and later a hurricane as it approaches the Gulf of Mexico during the weekend. It also warned that conditions are expected to be favorable for the storm to strengthen into a major hurricane.

"Odds are we're going to have a hurricane by the time we get out of this weekend in the Gulf of Mexico," AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno said Wednesday.

The National Hurricane Center said heavy rainfall and flooding are possible across parts of Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula from Thursday through Friday.

"Dangerous impacts from storm surge, wind, and heavy rainfall are possible Sunday and Monday along portions of the northern Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to the upper Texas coast, with the greatest risk along the coast of Louisana," the National Hurricane Center said on social media.

NOAA also warned that while full details of the storm's impact are uncertain as it just recently formed, people in the affected areas should prepare hurricane plans to ensure their safety.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Tropical storm Henri flooding
Tropical Depression Nine is expected to become a major hurricane by the time it reaches the U.S. this weekend, forecasters said. Above, a firetruck drives through a flooded intersection as Tropical Storm Henri passes through Hoboken, NJ, on August 22, 2021. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Both the Cuban and Cayman governments have issued tropical storm warnings following the formation of Tropical Depression Nine, according to information on the website of the U.S. National Weather Service.

Late Thursday morning, the depression had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (56 kph) and was located about 115 miles (185 kilometers) southwest of Negril, Jamaica, and about 210 miles (338 kilometers) southeast of Grand Cayman.

The depression is traveling northwest at about 13 mph (21 kph) and is expected to become a tropical storm by Thursday night when it passes over the Cayman Islands. It could be a hurricane when it approaches western Cuba and the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Friday, and a major hurricane by the time it reaches the northern U.S. Gulf Coast on Sunday, the weather service said. The central U.S. Gulf Coast should start to see rain from the depression by early Sunday.

The depression is forecast to deliver anywhere from 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain over parts of Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands. Forecasters warned of possible flash floods and mudslides and a storm surge of as much as 2 to 4 feet (.61 to 1 meter) above normal, along with "large and destructive waves."