Update, 2am: The center of Tropical Depression Five is 640 miles east of the Windward Islands.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami has declared that Tropical Depression Five formed Wednesday afternoon about 800 miles east of the Windward Islands.
The cyclone is currently moving west-northwest and has maximum sustained winds of 35 miles per hour. It is expected to become Tropical Storm Ernesto – with winds of at least 39 miles per hour – later tonight or tomorrow morning.
Although there is a high degree of uncertainty at this time with regard to the track and intensity forecast of Tropical Depression Five, the National Hurricane Center’s official forecast has it strengthening to a Category 1 hurricane just south of Jamaica on Monday afternoon.
As the cyclone approaches Caribbean Sea, it will encounter moderately-strong vertical wind shear, which is anticipated to slow its strengthening over the next couple of days, the Hurricane Center stated, adding that once it moves into the Caribbean Sea, the intensity forecast uncertainly increases.
“Our best two global [weather forecasting models] are at odds as to how the system will evolve as it moves over the Caribbean,” the Hurricane Center stated in its 5pm EDT discussion on the storm. “[One model] forecasts the upper-level environment to become quite conducive for strengthening by the end of the forecast period, whereas [another] model shows the system degenerating into a tropical wave.”
The Hurricane Center’s official forecast leans toward the first model. However, it adds in its discussion of the storm “but time will tell”.