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Tropical Storm Gaston becomes 2nd active named storm in the Atlantic, joins Fiona

Hurricane Fiona is strengthening as it continues to make its way toward Bermuda.
Tropical Storm Gaston formed Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is the second active named storm in the Atlantic right now.
Tropical Storm Gaston formed Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is the second active named storm in the Atlantic right now. [ National Hurricane Center ]
Published Sep. 20|Updated Sep. 21

A tropical depression in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean strengthened into Tropical Storm Gaston on Tuesday afternoon, according to an update from the National Hurricane Center.

Gaston is the second named storm currently active in the Atlantic, along with a strengthening Hurricane Fiona, which continues to make its way toward Bermuda.

Gaston is unlikely to threaten land, forecast models show. The hurricane center says it could impact the Azores, but the system is expected to become extratropical before next week.

Gaston currently is producing maximum sustained gusts of around 40 miles per hour. It is moving north-northeast at 17 miles per hour, but the hurricane center’s forecast expects it to turn over the weekend.

Tropical Storm Gaston is expected to largely stay in the central Atlantic Ocean, according to the forecast from the National Hurricane Center.
Tropical Storm Gaston is expected to largely stay in the central Atlantic Ocean, according to the forecast from the National Hurricane Center. [ National Hurricane Center ]

There are two other tropical disturbances brewing in the Atlantic, including one which could develop into a tropical depression as it makes its way into the Caribbean Sea in the coming days, forecasters say.

A tropical wave a few hundred miles east of the Windward Islands has shown more signs of organization and could become a tropical depression within the next two or three days, according to a Tuesday night update from the hurricane center. The storm is expected to move over the southern Windward Islands on Wednesday and into the central Caribbean Sea later this week, forecasters say.

The wave, which was moving west at 15 to 20 mph, has a 70% chance of forming into a depression in the next two days and a 90% chance over the next five days as it moves across the eastern and central Caribbean Sea, the update said.

While it’s far too early to know any details, it could enter the Gulf of Mexico later next week, according to Spectrum Bay News 9 forecasters. Brian McClure, a meteorologist at Bay News 9, said the wave is one to watch in the coming days.

“Potential to make a lot of noise over the next week,” McClure said in a tweet Tuesday. “Keep an eye on this one.”

Another tropical wave that popped up Tuesday afternoon is forecast to move off the west coast of Africa in a couple of days. Conditions are favorable for “at least gradual development” of the wave as it moves north between west Africa and the Cabo Verde Islands. The wave has a 40% chance of further formation in the next five days.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Fiona has intensified to a Category 3 storm, leaving destruction in its wake. In the hurricane center’s 8 p.m. update, forecasters said a hurricane hunter aircraft showed that Fiona is continuing to grow stronger.

As the storm blasted the Turks and Caicos Islands, the government imposed a curfew Tuesday and urged people to evacuate flood-prone areas.

At 8 p.m. Tuesday, Fiona was centered 75 miles north of North Caicos Island, and about 775 miles southwest of Bermuda. It had maximum sustained winds of 125 mph and was moving north-northwest at 8 mph.

The southeastern Bahamas is under a tropical storm warning, and Bermuda is under a tropical storm watch, according to the hurricane center.

In the Dominican Republic, authorities are reporting two deaths from Fiona. A 68-year-old man died when a tree fell on him and an 18-year-old girl was hit by a falling electrical pole while she was riding a motorcycle. More than 400,000 homes in the Dominican Republic are without power. Dominican president Luis Abinader said it could take days to assess all the damage from the storm.

In Puerto Rico, the blow from Fiona was made more devastating because the island has yet to recover from Hurricane Maria, which killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the power grid in 2017. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes on the island are still covered by blue tarps.

Authorities in Puerto Rico said Tuesday that 300,000 of 1.47 million people had power restored, but it could still take days before everyone has power again. Authorities also said water service was cut to around two-thirds of the island because of turbid water at filtration plants or not having power.

National Guards stand to direct traffic as resident Luis Noguera helps clear the road affected by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. Fiona triggered a blackout when it hit Puerto Rico’s southwest corner on Sunday. (AP Photo/Stephanie Rojas)
National Guards stand to direct traffic as resident Luis Noguera helps clear the road affected by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. Fiona triggered a blackout when it hit Puerto Rico’s southwest corner on Sunday. (AP Photo/Stephanie Rojas) [ STEPHANIE ROJAS | AP ]

Tuesday, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency went to the U.S. territory and FEMA said it was sending hundreds more workers to the island to aid in response efforts.

Meanwhile, a public health emergency has been declared on Puerto Rico by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and that agency deployed teams to the island, too. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would urge the federal government to cover all disaster response costs, as opposed to the usual 75%.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

• • •

2022 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

IT'S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.

RISING THREAT: Tampa Bay will flood. Here's how to get ready.

DOUBLE-CHECK: Checklists for building all kinds of hurricane kits

PHONE IT IN: Use your smartphone to protect your data, documents and photos.

SELF-CARE: Protect your mental health during a hurricane.

• • •

Rising Threat: A special report on flood risk and climate change

PART 1: The Tampa Bay Times partnered with the National Hurricane Center for a revealing look at future storms.

PART 2: Even weak hurricanes can cause huge storm surges. Experts say people don't understand the risk.

PART 3: Tampa Bay has huge flood risk. What should we do about it?

INTERACTIVE MAP: Search your Tampa Bay neighborhood to see the hurricane flood risk.

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