A fast-moving tropical wave continued to pick up steam overnight and could become a depression or Tropical Storm Matthew as soon as Tuesday, hurricane forecasters said.
The system was located about 600 miles east, southeast of the Windward Islands early Tuesday and becoming better organized. The storm was headed west-northwestward at 20 mph, National Hurricane Center forecasters said.
The system continues to encounter mild wind shear as it moves over very warm ocean water, with temperatures hovering around 85 degrees. The atmosphere is also very moist, another ingredient helping intensify the system. Forecasters are giving the wave a 90 percent chance of becoming the Atlantic’s next storm over the next two days, a rapid development that would give flood-prone countries including Haiti little time to prepare.
Computer models remain divided on the future path of the storm, with some turning it north as it moves into the Caribbean Sea and crossing Hispaniola as a more powerful storm. Others point the storm west, where drier air could hamper its intensity.
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A hurricane hunter plane is scheduled to investigate the storm Tuesday afternoon.
If the system becomes a named storm, it would be the 13th this year as the season approaches a month that has historically produced some of the fiercest storms.
Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich