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Tropical depression could hit US Gulf Coast as major hurricane

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MIAMI (AP) — A tropical depression formed Thursday in the Caribbean and could become a major hurricane by the time it reaches the northern U.S. Gulf Coast over the next several days, forecasters said.

Both the Cuban and Cayman governments have issued tropical storm warnings following the formation of Tropical Depression Nine, according to information on the website of the U.S. National Weather Service.

Late Thursday morning, the depression had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph and was located about 115 miles southwest of Negril, Jamaica, and about 210 miles southeast of Grand Cayman.

The depression is traveling northwest at about 13 mph and is expected to become a tropical storm by Thursday night when it passes over the Cayman Islands. It could be a hurricane when it approaches western Cuba and the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Friday, and a major hurricane by the time it reaches the northern U.S. Gulf Coast on Sunday, the weather service said. The central U.S. Gulf Coast should start to see rain from the depression by early Sunday.

The depression is forecast to deliver anywhere from 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain over parts of Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman islands. Forecasters warned of possible flash floods and mudslides and a storm surge of as much as 2 to 4 feet (.61 to 1 meter) above normal, along with "large and destructive waves."

This potential hurricane comes on the heels of Tropical Storm Henri, which was downgraded from a hurricane before lashing the northeastern United States:

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