US Election 2016

Storm threats to Florida and Gulf Coast

Palm trees blasted by winds over 100 mph during the 2005 Hurricane Wilma in Miami Beach, Florida. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The last major hurricane to hit Florida was Hurricane Wilma in October 2005

A tropical system brewing in the Caribbean could strengthen into a hurricane before hitting Florida and the Gulf Coast in the coming days.

Weather forecasters warn that the storm has a 60% chance of turning into a depression or named storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The tropical disturbance would be known as Hermine if upgraded to a storm.

Heavy rain in Florida brings the threat of more mosquitoes as the state grapples with a Zika virus outbreak.

Earlier this week, Florida announced five new cases of Zika, which is frequently spread by mosquitoes, bringing the state's total number of infected people to 42.

Weather officials estimate the tropical system, currently known as Invest 99-L, will hit the Bahamas by Friday and could arrive in South Florida and the Florida Keys by Sunday or Monday.

The tropical disturbance was located southeast of the Turks and Caicos Islands as of Thursday morning, but is still considered a disorganised system with no defined centre of circulation, according to the hurricane centre.

Should the system develop into Hermine, it would become the eighth named storm of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season.

Meteorologist have also expressed uncertainty about the potential storm tracking toward the Gulf Coast and Louisiana, where residents are still reeling from devastating floods that have left 13 people dead.

The last hurricane to strike Florida was Wilma in 2005, which made landfall in the US the same year as Katrina.

Meanwhile, the central Atlantic saw hurricane Gaston quickly develop late on Wednesday before it was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Gaston had winds of up to 75 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane, before it weakened and moved toward the Leeward Islands.

Hurricane season ends on 30 November.