The Sept. 28, 11 p.m. National Hurricane Center forecast tracking map shows Tropical Depression Sixteen located about 290 miles south-southwest of Miami.
Tropical Depression 16 was expected to cross Cuba Tuesday night and be near or over southeastern Florida by Wednesday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The center of the depression was 95 miles south-southeast of Cuba and about 290 miles south-southwest of Miami at 11 p.m. The NHC said it was approaching the coast of Cuba.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the Cayman Islands, provinces of Cuba from Matanzas eastward to Ciego de Avila, the northwest and Central Bahamas, and in Florida, from Jupiter Inlet southward to East Cape Sable and Florida Bay, as well as the Florida Keys.
A tropical storm watch was in effect for north of Jupiter Inlet to Sebastian Inlet and north of East Cape Sable to Chokoloskee.
The depression was moving toward the northeast at about 8 mph. Maximum sustained winds were near 35 mph with higher gusts, mainly in bands to the east and southeast of the center, the NHC said.
Some strengthening was forecast and the depression is expected to become Tropical Storm Nicole sometime tonight or Wednesday. It is expected to merge with a frontal zone on Thursday.
Some computer models show the storm regaining strength after it exits into the Atlantic and perhaps making another landfall on the east coast.
Pinellas County and Tampa Bay are not in the forecast cone. Wednesday’s local forecast calls for a 50 percent chance of rain with some heavy rainfall possible and highs in the upper 80s.
The weekend forecast is looking good with highs around 91 and lows down to 69 with no rain.
The NHC is also reporting on a tropical wave over the central Atlantic about 1,210 miles east of the Windward Islands. Forecasters said any development of the system is expected to be slow. Odds are 10 percent it will become a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours.
Elsewhere tropical cyclone formation is not expected during the next 48 hours.
Thus far, 13 named storms and seven hurricanes have formed in 2010. Five of the seven, Danielle, Earl, Igor, Julia and Karl, strengthened into major hurricanes.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s August forecast says there is a 70 percent chance of 14 to 20 named storms forming between June 1 and Nov. 30. The number includes the first three storms of the season: Alex, Bonnie and Colin.
NOAA says of the 14 to 20, 8 to 12 could be hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher. Of the 14 to 20, four to six could be major hurricanes, Category 3 or higher, with winds of 111 mph or more.
Hurricane experts Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray from Colorado State University forecast in August that 18 named storms would form in 2010 with 10 of the 18 strengthening into hurricanes. Of the 10, five are forecast to become major hurricanes, Category 3 or above.
Klotzbach and Gray will issue predictions for the next two weeks on later today.