Tropical Depression Seven formed in the Atlantic on Wednesday morning from a tropical wave approaching the far eastern Caribbean, and it could become Tropical Storm Fiona by Thursday, forecasters said.
According to the 5 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the depression was 745 miles east of the Leeward Islands, near the southeastern Caribbean Sea, and moving west at 13 mph.
Its maximum sustained winds were at 35 mph and forecasters said “it is likely not far from tropical storm strength” in its latest update.
The system is expected to reach the Leeward Islands by Friday or Friday night, then near the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico this weekend. Forecasters expect it to move over Haiti and the Dominican Republic this weekend and early next week, the 5 p.m. advisory said.
Tropical storm watches could go into effect by Thursday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.
It’s now past the statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season with only five named storms so far. AccuWeather notes that “not a single hurricane has come within striking distance of the East Coast or Gulf Coast” this season.
After Fiona, the next storm to form would be Gaston.
“The Atlantic hurricane season’s slow pace so far in 2022 has … led to a startling disparity in the number of mainland U.S. landfalls through mid-September compared to the last two years,” The Weather Channel reported.
Forecasters say dry air, Saharan dust, and wind shear have been among the reasons there haven’t been more storms this year.
“The lack of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic has been particularly noticeable considering recent hyperactive hurricane seasons with many impacts to the U.S. and Caribbean. Even though the season overall may end up near average or even slightly below average, it only takes one storm to threaten lives and create a major disaster,” according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter.