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Tropical Depression 16 has formed in the Caribbean and is heading toward the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday morning. If the system does strengthen, as expected, it’ll likely become Tropical Storm Nate, the 14th named storm of the year.

According to the NHC, maximum sustained winds are currently near 35 mph. The depression is expected to become a tropical storm by Wednesday evening.

The storm is expected to move slowly northwest across or near the eastern portions of Nicaragua and Honduras on Thursday, move into the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday and reach the southern Gulf of Mexico by Saturday.

Tropical Depression 16. (NHC/Special to The Pulse)

According to forecasters, the system is forecast to continue strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico and could affect portions of the northern Gulf Coast as a hurricane this weekend.

“However, it is too early to specify the timing or magnitude of these impacts,” forecasters said Wednesday morning. “Residents along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida should monitor the progress of this system for the next several days and heed any advice given by local officials.”

An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate the tropical system sometime Wednesday afternoon.

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