RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Tropical Storm Laura maintained its strength Friday as it moved west through the Caribbean.
The National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter aircraft found at 9:05 a.m. that Tropical Depression 14 had strengthen enough to be classified as a tropical storm.
At 5 p.m., Laura has winds of 45 mph and is moving west at 17 mph – down from 21 mph early Friday morning.
“Some slow strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours,” NHC said at 5 p.m.
The storm is about 40 east of Antigua.
Its forecast track has it moving just between Cuba and Florida on Monday and then strengthening into a Category 1 hurricane.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, Tropical Depression 14 is still in the Gulf of Mexico and is forecast to move just west of Laura’s path.
The depression has 35 mph winds and is moving northwest at 13 mph.
Tropical Depression 14 was forecast to graze the Atlantic coast of Honduras, then curve northward to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
It could reach hurricane strength Monday morning.
Friday moring’s forecast has it heading toward the Texas or Louisiana coast by Tuesday, again possibly strengthening into a hurricane.
It is expected to become a tropical storm sometime Friday.
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