Tropical depression forms south of Cuba, set to strengthen

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MIAMI (AP) — A tropical depression formed Saturday afternoon south of Cuba amid forecasts that the system would become a named tropical storm later this weekend and possibly a hurricane within days, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Tropical Depression 28 was centered about 240 miles (380 kilometers) south-southeast of the western tip of Cuba on Saturday night, the center said. It had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and was stationary, but expected to move to the north-northwest overnight.

Forecasters said the depression is expected to strengthen into a tropical storm sometime Sunday and could attain hurricane status over the southern Gulf of Mexico by Tuesday. The center said the storm is expected to remain south of Cuba on Sunday and approach Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula — or the Yucatan Channel — late Monday before entering the southern Gulf.

The government of Cuba has issued a tropical storm watch for the province of Pinar del Rio. The hurricane center said people on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula should monitor the progress of the storm, which is expected to gradually strengthen over the next 72 hours.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Epsilon was located about 785 miles (1,265 kilometers) northeast of Bermuda on Saturday night. The storm had top sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) with higher gusts, making it a Category 1 hurricane.

It is expected to move quicker toward the northeast through Sunday, and become a large, powerful post-tropical cyclone by late Sunday, forecasters said. Large ocean swells generated by the hurricane could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions along U.S. East Coast and Atlantic Canada during the next couple of days.

This year’s season has so many storms that the hurricane center has turned to the Greek alphabet after running out of official names.

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