First tropical depression forms

A weather system off the western tip of Cuba became the Atlantic hurricane season's first tropical depression, forecasters said Saturday morning.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | June 10, 2006

A weather system off western Cuba turned into the Atlantic hurricane season's first tropical depression, forecasters said Saturday.

A hurricane hunter aircraft may fly into the system Saturday afternoon.

The depression was centered about 100 miles south of Cabo San Antonio in western Cuba in the northwest Caribbean Saturday morning. Forecasters from the National Hurricane Center said the system is expected to move through the Yucatan Channel and into the Gulf of Mexico Saturday night. Even if the system fails to form into Tropical Storm Alberto, heavy rain will hit Belize, Honduras, Cayman Islands and Cuba where more than 8-inches of rain has already fallen.

The system's winds need to reach 39 mph in order for it to be classified as a tropical storm.

Forecasters said it was too soon to tell if South Florida would be in the storm's path although early computer models suggest a track that would take the storm across the central or northern Florida peninsula and into the Atlantic. Conditions are favorable for strengthening, forecasters said, but added that it was unlikely to grow into a major threat. Forecasters are also watching an active tropical wave that is predicted to reach the eastern Caribbean by Tuesday.

Last year, the first tropical depression - which later became Tropical Storm Arlene - formed June 8.

The 2006 Atlantic hurricane season began June 1.

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