CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The seventh tropical depression of the season became Tropical Storm Gaston Monday night.
At 11 p.m., the center of Tropical Storm Gaston was located near latitude 12.6 North, longitude 30.7 West. Gaston is moving toward the west-northwest near 18 mph and this general motion with a slight decrease in forward speed is expected during the next couple of days.
"It does become at least a Category 1, some of the actual intensity models bring it to Cat. 3 status," Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh says. "The good news about this storm, it should stay out to sea."
Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 40 mph with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is expected, and Gaston is forecast to become a hurricane Tuesday night or Wednesday.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center. The estimated minimum central pressure is 1005 mb.
Forecast models project the storm staying at sea without becoming a threat to land.
However, a second system, currently known as Invest 99-L, is gaining strength as a tropical wave located about 550 miles east of the Lesser Antilles.
It continues to produce disorganized shower and thunderstorm activity. Conditions are marginally conducive for some gradual development during the next few days while the disturbance moves westward to west-northwestward at 15 to 20 mph.
Environmental conditions could become more conducive for development late this week when the system is expected to move near Hispaniola and the southeastern and the central Bahamas. An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate this system on Tuesday, if necessary.
Forecast tracks for this tropical wave take it north of the Bahamas.
"Anything that comes up this way, we certainly keep an eye on," Walsh says.
But Walsh says that wave will have to overcome a few hurdles before it can become a serious threat. First, there is a lot of dry air ahead of the storm, which is a bad thing for a tropical system's development. Second, an upper trough will create another challenge for they wave to develop, he said.
Interests in the Lesser Antilles, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico should monitor the progress of this system.
Forecasters say there is a 40 percent chance of formation over the next 48 hours and a 60 percent chance over the next five days.