New tropical depression could strike US Gulf Coast as a hurricane this weekend

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK)-- A newly formed tropical depression in the southwestern Caribbean is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane that could impact the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The depression, which is currently churning 50 miles south of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, is expected to become Tropical Storm Nate on Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Residents from Louisiana to Florida are being warned to monitor the system as it approaches this weekend. The area is still feeling the effects of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The depression could reach hurricane status as early as Saturday while entering the Gulf of Mexico. Its current trajectory has it on track to make landfall somewhere between Mobile, Alabama, and Tallahassee, Florida, on Saturday night or Sunday morning as a weak Category 1 hurricane, with winds of about 75 mph. However, the track -- as well as the strength -- is subject to change.

The tropical depression was approaching Nicaragua on Thursday morning with rain heavy enough to cause mudslides and flash flooding. Up to 30 inches of rain is possible in some locations in Central America, according to the National Weather Service.

A hurricane watch had already been issued for Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, including Cancun.

So far, the Atlantic has seen five major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) during the 2017 season; two short of the record set in 2005 that saw seven major hurricanes.

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