Hurricane watch issued for Florida Keys
Tropical Depression 18 grows in Atlantic
Sunday, September 18, 2005; Posted: 1:11 p.m. EDT (17:11 GMT)
(CNN) -- A hurricane watch has been issued for the Florida Keys as a tropical depression strengthened in the Atlantic, the National Hurricane Center said Sunday.
Tropical Depression 18 formed late Saturday near the Bahamas, and the National Hurricane Center forecasts the storm will intensify as it moves west toward the Keys, Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico.
The hurricane watch extends from Ocean Reef southward and westward to Dry Tortugas, which means hurricane conditions and sustained winds of 74 mph or more are possible within 36 hours.
A hurricane watch also is in effect for the northwest Bahamas.
The storm had top sustained winds of 35 mph, but forecasters predicted it would gain intensity and become Tropical Storm Rita by Monday morning and reach hurricane status by Tuesday morning.
At 11 a.m. ET Sunday, the storm was about 390 miles east-southeast of Nassau, Bahamas, and was moving west at near 12 mph, according to the hurricane center.
The storm should move over the eastern and central Bahamas later today. The hurricane center's advisory said up to 8 inches of rain might fall in the Bahamas.
Forecasters said the storm's projected path would take it through the Straits of Florida between South Florida from Cuba. By Wednesday morning, the storm could become a hurricane and move into the Gulf of Mexico.
A tropical storm warning was issued Saturday night for the Turks and Caicos and southeast and central Bahamas, meaning tropical storm conditions and sustained winds of 39-73 mph are expected within 24 hours.
To the east of TD 18, Tropical Storm Philippe became the 16th named storm of the busy 2005 season Saturday night.
As of 11 a.m. ET Sunday, Philippe's top sustained winds had reached 50 mph, and the storm was expected to reach hurricane strength during the next 24 hours. Its center was about 425 miles east-southeast of the Leeward Islands, and it was moving north-northwest at about 7 mph.
Philippe's three-day forecast showed the storm heading to the northwest, into the Atlantic. However, forecasters warned people in the central and northern Lesser Antilles to keep an eye on the storm.