Tropical Storm Gamma came to life Friday night and is now the third storm this year to be given a name from the Greek alphabet as the above-average 2020 hurricane season continues apace.
As of 8 p.m. EDT Saturday evening, the storm boasted winds near 95 km/h and is currently taking a track to the northwest.
"Gamma is moving toward the northwest near 8 mph (13 km/h), and a turn toward the north-northwest with decreasing forward speed is expected tonight and Sunday, followed by a turn to the west or west-southwest Sunday night or Monday," the U.S. National Hurricane Center says. "On the forecast track, the center of Gamma will continue to move over the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula through tonight, move into the southern Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, and pass near or north of the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula Sunday night and Monday."
It is not presently expected to achieve hurricane status, but some slight additional strengthening is possible before Gamma makes landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula Saturday. After landfall, some weakening is expected.
Tropical storm warnings and watches are in effect for parts of the Mexico coast.
The storm will still pack a punch, however, first bringing 100-200 mm of rainfall to parts of the Yucatan and far western Cuba, possibly dropping as much as 250-375 mm across northeastern portion of Quintana Roo. This rainfall may produce life-threatening flash floods.
But forecasters say a separate area of "significant rain" will develop away from the storm's centre, falling hardest in the states of Campeche, Tabasco and northern Chiapas, with 200-300 mm possible, and possibly reaching the 500 mm mark in some areas.
"This rainfall may produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," the NHC says.
With this storm, the 2020 hurricane season creeps closer to uncharted territory: the current record for the most active season was set in 2005, which went as far as Zeta, named for the sixth letter in the Greek alphabet after the traditional name list was exhausted. That storm actually lingered a few days into January before finally dissipating.