FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Tropical Storm Gonzalo, which formed Wednesday morning, is expected to become a hurricane Thursday, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
It is one of two tropical disturbances the National Hurricane Center is currently monitoring, and the seventh named storm of an already busy 2020 hurricane season.
As of 11 a.m. EDT, Gonzalo, was located between the west coast of Africa and the Lesser Antilles, about 1,205 miles east of the Southern Winward Island, with winds at 50 mph. Gusts are expected to increase over the next two days.
It is expected to continue to move at 10 to 15 mph, traveling into the tropical Atlantic. A general westward motion at a faster forward speed is expected during the next few days, according to the hurricane center.
Levi Cowan, a meteorologist with the hurricane research division of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory tweeted Wednesday morning that the storm's strengthening trend increases the odds of a significant storm impacting the Lesser Antilles by Saturday.
Other named storms this year are Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard and Fay. Tropical Storm Arthur formed in mid-May, making this the sixth straight year that a named storm formed before the official start of hurricane season on June 1.
Virtually all estimates for this hurricane season predict an above-average number of storms, due to unusually warm ocean temperatures and global climate factors that are likely to reduce the high-altitude winds that can prevent the formation of hurricanes.
"Conditions are expected to become less conducive for storm formation/intensification as the system approaches the Caribbean Sea this weekend," Robert Molleda, meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Miami office, said Tuesday. "Nevertheless, parts of the eastern Caribbean Sea and Windward Islands could see an increase in showers and thunderstorms with gusty wind late this week and this weekend. Beyond that, it's difficult to determine what this system might do."
Molleda said there is no immediate threat to South Florida, but said these storms should serve as another reminder to be prepared for the approaching height of hurricane season.
"The time of year when we're more likely to be threatened is approaching (August, September and October)," he said. "Make sure that our hurricane plans are in place now while we have no active threats, so that we're ready to implement them in case we get a threat later in the season."