Depression likely to become Tropical Storm Gamma Friday night

A tropical wave in the western Caribbean that forecasters have been tracking for the last…

A tropical wave in the western Caribbean that forecasters have been tracking for the last week strengthened into Tropical Depression 25 Friday morning and was expected to become Tropical Storm Gamma on Friday night.

Spectrum Bay News 9 meteorologist Mike Clay said the system will increase rain chances in the Tampa Bay area over the weekend.

“Regardless of the track, moisture from the tropical system is expected to be ejected rapidly toward the west coast of Florida later this weekend and give us a much better chance of rain, possibly heavy,” Clay said in an email.

Rain chances for Tampa Bay will be 60 percent on Saturday and 80 percent on Sunday.

The National Hurricane Center said in its 5 p.m. advisory Friday that the depression was moving northwest near 9 mph and will be near the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula on Saturday.

Clay said water temperatures are very warm in the Western Caribbean and wind shear is low. He expects the depression to become a named tropical storm late Friday, too, in line with an advisory with the hurricane center.

“The tropical cyclone should move over the Yucatan this weekend and by this time steering currents are weak and computer models are not in good agreement of whether the center will be over land or over water in a few days,” Clay said.

On Friday evening, the system was packing 35 mph winds. It was located about 155 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico. The system will need sustained winds of at least 40 mph in order to become Gamma.

Despite the recent lull of tropical activity in the Atlantic, we are still in the midst of an active storm season producing named storms at a historically rapid pace. There have been 23 named storms, eight hurricanes and two major hurricanes, Laura and Teddy, that have formed at a rapid rate.

This season has been so busy that all 21 storm names have been used up for the first time since 2005.

Times Staff Writer Josh Fiallo contributed to this report.

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