The National Hurricane Center says Tropical Depression #3 formed in the Bahamas on Thursday morning. Its current forecast path has it heading in the direction of the oil spill.
Officials at the NHC say while the storm’s path is not clear, it is expected to enter the central or eastern Gulf of Mexico in the next few days.
As of 10 a.m. Thursday, officials in Miami said the depression had maximum sustained winds near 35 mph and could become a tropical storm later in the day. Should it become a tropical storm, its name would be Bonnie.
The center will provide another update on the storm at 1 p.m. Central Time.
A tropical storm warning has been issued for the central and northwestern Bahamas, for Florida’s east coast south of Golden Beach and also along Florida’s west coast northward to Bonita Beach. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Florida’s east coast north of Golden Beach.
The storm is putting extra pressure on BP and the U.S. government to decide whether to evacuate dozens of ships at the site of a ruptured oil well. An evacuation would halt repair work and force BP to reopen the cap that has contained the oil leak for several days.
“This is necessarily going to be a judgment call,” said retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who was waiting to see how the storm developed before deciding whether to order any of the ships to leave.
BP spokesman Scott Dean said Thursday morning that no decisions had been made yet.