Tropical system expected to become hurricane by Sunday night

Tropical Depression 16 formed in the southwest Caribbean Sea Wednesday morning, and according to the National Hurricane Center, it could intensify to a tropical storm soon.

According to the Center’s 5 p.m. Wednesday advisory, rapid intensification (at least 35-mph maximum wind increase in 24 hours or less) is a possibility with this system in the northwest Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico, thanks to deep, warm water and low wind shear environment in its path.

The tropical depression is projected to strengthen to a tropical storm overnight, at which time it would be named Nate.

Once in the Gulf, it could strengthen into a hurricane shortly before arriving at the U.S. mainland, possibly by around 8 a.m. ET Sunday.

It’s uncertain at this point what impact the storm will have on the Outer Banks, but several forecast models have the system being carried toward the Carolinas.

Here's a general timeline of events with this system:

• Saturday: Last day to prepare; some outer rainbands, swells may arrive along the eastern Gulf Coast

• Sunday: Landfall, peak impact along the northern Gulf Coast somewhere from southeast Louisiana to Florida; heavy rain spreads inland into parts of the Southeast

• Monday: Nate inland, but heavy rain/flood threat spreads into the Appalachians, other parts of the Carolinas.

Look for updates on, as they become available.

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