Cancun, Q.R. — The tropical storm, which has been named Nate by AccuWeather, was Tropical Depression Sixteen on Wednesday. The storm, which is located about 800 kilometers (497 miles) south-southeast from the state of Quintana Roo, is expected to strengthen as it moves northward.
AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski says, “Any tropical system in this area is likely to drift in a general northward direction, which will take it over the Gulf of Mexico by this weekend.”
Civil Protection for the state of Quintana Roo has issued a blue alert (TS) for the storm, saying as of now, it poses minimal danger and that they will send an update every 12 hours. Civil Protection adds that due the gradual approach of the storm to the coast of the State of Quintana Roo, by reason of distance and predicted trajectory, it is suggested the general population be attentive and informed on the warnings, as well as adhere to the recommendations that are issued through Civil Protection while they continue to monitor the tropical system.
Forecasters are predicting between 38 cm to 50 cm (15 to 20 inches) of rain for the Nicaragua/Honduras region as the storm passes Thursday and into Friday morning.
Tropical Storm Nate is expected to wander toward and near the Yucatan Peninsula Friday, bringing with it approximately 50 mm of rain over a 24-hour period. Once Nate moves off and back over warm Caribbean waters, forecasters anticipate the storm will further strengthen as well as increase in its forward speed.
Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist says Nate will likely pass through the Yucatan Channel between Mexico and Cuba, limiting land interaction that would weaken the storm, however, if Nate moves over the Yucatan Peninsula or Cuba, that landfall could prevent the system from further developing into a hurricane.
“Since the system will be moving over very warm waters, we could quickly have a powerful hurricane on our hands,” Kottlowski said, adding that the warm Caribbean waters are enough to potentially allow for rapid intensification, meaning conditions would be prime for a tropical cyclone to gain strength quickly.
According to the National Hurricane Center Wednesday, “Rapid intensification is a possibility over the northwestern Caribbean or southern Gulf of Mexico while the system is traversing rather warm and deep waters.”
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria all underwent rapid intensification on their way to becoming major hurricanes earlier this season.
The official forecast for Nate has landfall near Panama City, Florida on Sunday with winds of 80 mph, which would make Nate a Category 1 Hurricane.
Hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin officially ends at the end of November.