The seventh tropical depression of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season formed earlier today; the National Hurricane Center now forecasts it to become a tropical storm later tonight or tomorrow, with direct and indirect impacts to the United States expected in the coming days. This new activity comes after the traditional peak of the season just passed without any activity in the basin in a season that has been relatively tame.
Right now, Tropical Depression #7 is located about 745 miles east of the Leeward Islands. With maximum sustained winds of 35 mph and a minimum central pressure of 1008 mb or 29.77″, the system is moving to the west at 13 mph.
There are no Tropical Storm Watches or Warnings up at this time; however, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) says that interests in the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico should monitor the progress of this system. Tropical storm watches will likely be required for portions of the Leeward Islands this evening or overnight.
For now, the NHC expects this storm system to continue to move west for the next few days before turning more northwest with time. On the forecast track, the center of the system is forecast to move through the Leeward Islands late Friday and Friday night, and be near the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico this weekend. As it heads west, the NHC expects some gradual strengthening during the next day or so,and the depression is forecast to become a tropical storm tonight or Thursday. Because the storm is expected to interact with higher terrain over the Caribbean Islands, especially Puerto Rico and Dominica, the NHC doesn’t expect the storm to strengthen beyond tropical storm status for the next five days.
When this system becomes a tropical storm, it’ll be given the name Fiona.
While it is likely this storm will impact the United States by way of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, it is too soon to tell whether or not the mainland U.S. will see direct or indirect impacts. While the European ECMWF computer forecast model gradually curves this system out to sea, the American GFS computer forecast brings this storm dangerously close to the Mid Atlantic and New England coasts with time. Over the next week, these forecasts will be refined and the NHC will have a better idea of where the storm will go once it passes through or near Puerto Rico. Even if the storm doesn’t directly impact the U.S. mainland, it could still generate life-threatening swells and rough surf up and down the East Coast.