A festering mass of thunderstorms in the southwestern Caribbean has gradually become better organized and was declared the 16th tropical depression of Atlantic hurricane season Wednesday morning by the National Hurricane Center. The depression is likely to become the season’s 14th named storm, called Nate, very soon. The depression could strengthen substantially over the coming days and make landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast between Louisiana and Florida’s west coast late Sunday as a

hurricane. New Orleans, Mobile, Ala., Pensacola, Fla., Apalachicola, Fla., and even Tampa are among population centers the system could directly impact. “The system is forecast to continue strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico and could affect portions of the northern Gulf Coast as a hurricane this weekend, with direct impacts from wind, storm surge, and heavy rainfall,” the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday. “However, it is too early to specify the timing or magnitude of these impacts.” READ MORE