A weather system near Puerto Rico that was upgraded to Tropical Storm Gabrielle late Wednesday weakened to a tropical depression Thursday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
At 5 p.m. Thursday, the tropical storm was about 30 miles south-southwest of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. It was moving northwest at 9 mph.
"Gabrielle has maintained deep thunderstorms (convection) near the center of circulation but the pressures haven't fallen much and the winds of tropical storm strength were very confined near the center," said Channel 4 forecaster Blake Mathews on Thursday morning.
The NHC said tropical depression Gabrielle pass just west of Puerto Rico on Thursday morning, and would pass near or over the Dominican Republic overnight and move east of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Friday.
By late afternoon Thursday, all coastal watches and warnings were dropped, although forecasters did warn of flash floods or even mudslides as isolated areas of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands could receive up to 8 inches of rain.
Hurricane forecasters say Gabrielle is so poorly organized that whatever is left of the system will likely dissipate after it moves over the mountainous island of Hispaniola.
Hurricane forecasters are also watching three other tropical waves Thursday morning. One is moving west through the Bay of Campeche at 10 to 15 mph and was expected to move ashore into mainland Mexico before, but the NHC says conditions are favorable for development and gives it a 30 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone before reaching land.
The second wave is an extended trough from the northeast Leeward Islands northeast into the Atlantic Ocean. Because of its proximity to Tropical Storm Gabrielle, this system is give only a 20 percent chance of strengthening into something tropical.
A third area of concern was noted Thursday morning about 450 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. The area of showers and thunderstorms show some signs of development and forecasters give it a 10 percent chance of becoming a tropical system. over the next five days.
"While on paper we have had an active season, all the storms that have developed up until now have been marginal at best," Matthews said. "If you take the forecast verbatim, Gabrielle won't be around long enough to have much of an impact on our inactive season. When you compare the Atlantic hurricane season via accumulated cyclone energy (a measurement that takes into account longevity and strength of systems), then one could say that a snow plow in Tampa has had more action. But the joke is on you. Tampa doesn't have snow plows."