New tropical depression expected to become first 2023 hurricane -US center

(Reuters) – The third topical depression of the 2023 hurricane season has formed in the central tropical Atlantic and is expected to become a hurricane in a few days, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Monday.

The depression, about 1,425 miles (2,295 km) east of the southern Windward Islands, is packing maximum sustained winds of 35 miles per hour (55 km per hour), the Miami-based forecaster said.

“The depression is forecast to strengthen and move across the Lesser Antilles as a hurricane on Thursday and Friday, bringing a risk of flooding from heavy rainfall, hurricane-force winds, and dangerous storm surge and waves,” the hurricane center said.

While it was too early to specify the location and magnitude of where those hazards could occur, the center urged authorities in the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to closely monitor the system and have hurricane plans in place.

If the depression becomes a hurricane, it would be the first one of the 2023 season, which lasts from June through November.

A slightly below-average 2023 Atlantic hurricane season lies ahead with an El Nino weather phenomenon damping the storm outlook, researchers at Colorado State University predicted in April.

(Reporting by Deep Vakil and Seher Dareen in Bengaluru; editing by Jonathan Oatis)