Tropical Depression Nine has formed in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday.
The storm joins Hurricane Earl and Tropical Storm Fiona churning in the Atlantic waters.
Hurricane Earl made its presence known Wednesday despite being hundreds of miles from the East Coast of the U.S., menacing swimmers with dangerous rip currents and large swells as forecasters expanded a hurricane watch northward from North Carolina into coastal Virginia. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Ocracoke Island, on North Carolina's Outer Banks, and Cape Lookout National Seashore.
Earl lost some of its punch early Wednesday and was downgraded to a Category 3 storm, with maximum sustained winds near 125 mph (200 kph). However, it was still a major hurricane, and forecasters said more fluctuations in intensity were possible in the next 48 hours. Tracking maps show Earl approaching the North Carolina coast early Friday as a Category 3 storm. As of 11 a.m., Earl was about 170 miles (270 kilometers) east-northeast of San Salvador and about 725 miles (1170 kilometers) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Tropical Storm Fiona, meanwhile, gained a little strength as it headed toward the northern Leeward Islands. As of 11 a.m., Fiona was about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east-northeast of the islands and about 85 miles (135 kilometers) north of Barbuda, moving northwest at 17 mph. It had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, and a tropical storm watch was in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius. Forecasters said Fiona could dump between 1 and 3 inches of rain on the islands, with up to 5 inches possible in some areas.