SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The National Hurricane Center has now called invest 98L tropical depression # 13. Meaning it has a closed low and winds at 35 mph.
It is moving quickly to the WNW at 20 mph and this should keep it from developing too fast over the next couple of days.
It is expected to gain tropical storm status by Thursday evening and keep moving around an area of high pressure to its north toward the WNW.
It looks like it will get close to the Hispaniola but stay far enough to the north that it should gain some strength on Saturday and Sunday.
We are in the cone of uncertainty on day 5 or Monday. There is still a lot of room for error between now and then so a lot can change.
Right now it looks like it would be a big rain maker for the Suncoast if it gets into the Gulf. It does not look to be a big wind storm at this time. Too early to make predictions on the amount of rain but 4-8 inches would be possible if it follows a path close to the Suncoast.
If it ends up well east of our area off the east coast of Florida then we would not see as much rain.
There will be some time for it to strengthen as it moves over the central Bahamas and in the SW Atlantic. Intensity forecasting is a very difficult science still and it could get a little stronger than some of the models are suggesting.
Even though it is forecast to be a tropical storm somewhere from the western tip of Cuba to off the coast of Cape Canaveral Florida one must remember that tropical storms are dangerous as well.