MIAMI (AP) — A tropical depression in the Caribbean could strengthen over the next several days and become a hurricane by midweek as it heads toward the Florida Panhandle, forecasters said Sunday.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said that the tropical depression could strengthen into a hurricane by Tuesday night or Wednesday.
The hurricane center advised residents along the northeastern and central U.S. Gulf Coast to monitor the storm's progress.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Sunday said he planned to declare a state of emergency for counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area of the state. The declaration will free up resources for storm preparation.
"As we continue to monitor this storm's northward path toward Florida, it is critically important that our communities have every available resource to keep everyone safe and prepared," Scott said in a statement.
The storm was about 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of Cozumel, Mexico early Sunday, and it was moving north at about 6 mph (9 kph) with maximum sustained winds at 35 mph (55 kph).
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the Cuban provinces of Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth as well as the coast of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche.