We now have Tropical Depression Eighteen located 390 miles east-southeast of Nassau. The current official forecast takes the system right over the Bahamas and towards the Florida Keys. Right now the forecast is very similar to Katrina, but everyone in Florida, the Bahamas, Cuba, and the Gulf Coast should keep an eye on this storm. A Hurricane Watch has already been posted for the northwest Bahamas, and as of 11:00am, has been issued for all of the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef out to the Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay. A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for the Turks and Caicos islands and for the southeast and central Bahamas.
A low shear environment combined with warm sea surface temperatures should allow the formation of Hurricane Rita in a few days. As is always the case with new systems, the track and intensity forecasts are prone to initial errors. By this evening we should have a better idea of the actual track and intensity.