TAMPA (FOX 13) - Tropical Depression 16 has formed in the southwestern Caribbean Sea and is expected to move north into the Gulf of Mexico, strengthening along the way.
TD 16 was located just off the coast of Nicaragua in the western Caribbean and was moving NW at 7 mph Wednesday evening. This system is expected to become Tropical Storm Nate sometime Thursday.
As of Thursday morning, the track shifted further west from Florida. It's still too early to say for sure how the potential storm will affect the state but most long-range models have the system making landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast as a tropical storm or hurricane this weekend.
"Intensity and track will likely change in the coming days. There is no center of circulation for models to initialize on just yet," FOX 13 meteorologist Lindsay Milbourne explained, warning about the still-warm water of the Gulf of Mexico.
"One thing for sure is we've seen how named storms can strengthen. This is why October is a vulnerable month for Florida and southeast U.S. -- water temperatures are still in the low- to mid-80s, which is plenty warm for storms to strengthen. Much of these waters have been untouched by named storms this season."
As of the 5 p.m. NHC update, the system had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, just short of the 39-mph threshold for tropical storms. A tropical storm warning was in effect for parts of Nicaragua and Honduras.