Coast Guard Offloads $22 Million in Seized Cocaine in Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos and Caribbean Corridor Strike Force agents offloaded 2,425 pounds (1,100 kilograms) of seized cocaine Monday, following three separate at-sea interdictions near Puerto Rico.

Fourteen men, Dominican Republic nationals, apprehended in these cases are facing federal prosecution in Puerto Rico. The seized contraband has an estimated wholesale value of approximately $22 million dollars.

These interdictions are the result of multi-agency efforts involving the Caribbean Border Interagency Group and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force. 

Coast Guard Offloads  Million in Seized Cocaine in Puerto Rico
Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos crewmembers offloaded 1,100 kilograms of cocaine, valued at $22 million dollars, at Coast Guard Base San Juan August 8, 2022, following three separate interdictions of drug smuggling vessels near Puerto Rico. Fourteen Dominican Republic nationals apprehended in these cases are facing federal prosecution in Puerto Rico. These interdictions are the result of multi-agency efforts involving the Caribbean Border Interagency Group and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

During the afternoon of August 3, the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine multi-role enforcement aircraft detected a 25-foot suspect vessel north of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. During the interdiction, the smugglers jettisoned multiple bales of suspected contraband into the water. Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos, assisted by the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft, stopped the suspect vessel, apprehended four men and recovered 13 bales of the jettisoned cargo that collectively weighed 1,653 pounds (750 kilograms) and tested positive for cocaine.

During the afternoon of July 29, the aircrew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine multi-role enforcement aircraft detected a 20-foot suspect vessel in waters northwest of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.  During the interdiction, the smugglers jettisoned multiple bales of suspected contraband into the water. Cutter Joseph Tezanos stopped the smuggling vessel, apprehended four men and recovered eight bales of the jettisoned cargo that collectively weighted approximately 441 pounds (200kgs) and tested positive for cocaine.

Coast Guard Offloads  Million in Seized Cocaine in Puerto Rico
The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos small boat crew recovers 13 bales (1,653 pounds) of cocaine jettisoned from a drug smuggling vessel that was interdicted near Puerto Rico August 3, 2022. Four Dominican Republic nationals who were apprehended in this case are facing federal prosecution in Puerto Rico. This interdiction is the result of multi-agency efforts involving the Caribbean Border Interagency Group and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force. (U.S. Coast Guard photo).

During the afternoon of July 27, the aircrew of Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft detected a 20-foot suspect vessel in waters northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. During the interdiction, the smugglers jettisoned multiple bales of suspected contraband into the water.  Cutter Joseph Tezanos  arrived on scene and stopped the non-compliant vessel, apprehended six men and recovered three bales of the jettisoned cargo that collectively weighted approximately 330 pounds (150 kilograms) and tested positive for cocaine.

“These successful interdictions reflect the unwavering resolve and strong partnerships between the Coast Guard and our Caribbean Border Interagency Group partners in stopping illicit drug trafficking in the high seas,” said Capt. José E. Díaz, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “I’m proud of the professionalism and performance of the cutter Joseph Tezanos in apprehending 14 smugglers and preventing these drugs from reaching the shores and streets of Puerto Rico.” 

Special Agents supporting the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force are leading the investigation into this case. 

Cutter Joseph Tezanos is a 154-foot fast response cutter that is homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The CCSF is an initiative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics using the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District for the District of Puerto Rico.

Cuba Brings Oil Depot Fire Under Control, Worst In Island’s History

HAVANA — Firefighters on Tuesday finally overcame what officials described as the worst fire in Cuba’s history that over five days destroyed 40 percent of the Caribbean island’s main fuel storage facility and caused massive blackouts.

Reuters witnesses reported the raging flames that ravaged a four-tank segment of the Matanzas super tanker port had died down and the towering plumes of thick black smoke streaming from the area were diminished and now mostly gray.

Matanzas is Cuba’s largest port for receiving crude oil and fuel imports. Cuban heavy crude, as well as fuel oil and diesel stored in Matanzas in 10 huge tanks, are mainly used to generate electricity on the island.

Cuba Brings Oil Depot Fire Under Control, Worst In Island's History
Helicopters throw water over the zone where fuel storage tanks exploded near Cuba’s supertanker port in Matanzas, Cuba, August 9, 2022. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Lightning struck one fuel storage tank on Friday evening. The fire spread to a second by Sunday and engulfed the four-tank area on Monday, accompanied by huge explosions and despite efforts by local firefighters supported by more than 100 Mexican and Venezuelan reinforcements.

Firefighter Rafael Perez Garriga told Reuters on the steaming outskirts of the disaster that he worries the fire would impact the power situation in the country.

“The situation is going to be more difficult. If the thermoelectric plants are supplied with that oil, we are going to have the whole world affected, it is electricity and it affects everything,” he said.

Cuba Brings Oil Depot Fire Under Control, Worst In Island's History

The Communist-run country, under heavy U.S. sanctions, is all but bankrupt. Frequent blackouts and shortages of gasoline and other commodities already had created a tense situation with scattered local protests following last summer’s historic unrest in July.

On Tuesday, more helicopters joined the effort to put out the fire, along with two fireboats sent by Mexico along with heavy firefighting equipment.

“We have not yet been able to access the impact area due to the conditions. There is combustion and so we cannot risk our lives for now,” Perez said around noon.

Later in the day firefighters for the first time were entering the area and spraying foam and water on the still smoldering remains.

Cuba Brings Oil Depot Fire Under Control, Worst In Island's History
A firefighter works on the zone where fuel storage tanks exploded near Cuba’s supertanker port in Matanzas, Cuba, August 9, 2022. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

“Today we have managed to control the fire,” Rolando Vecino, head of transport for the Ministry of the Interior, said on state-run television from the scene.

Officials have not said how much fuel has been lost in the fire which destroyed all four tanks. Authorities stated that no oil had contaminated the nearby Matanzas Bay. Still they warned residents as far away as Havana to wear face masks and avoid acid rain due to the massive plume of smoke the fire generated.

One firefighter died and 14 went missing on Saturday when the second tank blew up, authorities said on Tuesday, correcting an earlier figure of 16 missing. Five others remain in critical condition.

Cuba Brings Oil Depot Fire Under Control, Worst In Island's History
A lightning strikes through smoke from fuel storage tanks that exploded near Cuba’s supertanker port in Matanzas, Cuba, August 8, 2022. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Mario Sabines, governor of the Matanzas province, about 60 miles (130 km) from Havana, quipped the flames spread like an “Olympic torch” from one tank to the next, turning each into a “caldron.”

REUTERS

Additional reporting by Marc Frank and Nelson Gonzalez; Editing by David Gregorio and Marguerita Choy

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

US Virgin Islands Creates Park System, Adds 30 Properties

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The USVI on Tuesday created a new territorial parks system that protects more than 30 areas from commercial development and reserves them for activities including hiking and beaching.

Properties that total hundreds of acres were identified in St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas, including Great Salt Pond, Oppenheimer Beach, Cas Cay and Bovoni Cay.

Gov. Albert Bryan also signed legislation that revises a trust fund board whose seven members will be responsible for managing and acquiring land.

The government also expects to implement a Maroon sanctuary zone in St. Croix’s West End to honor the legacy of Caribbean descendants of West African slaves who escaped slavery using guerrilla warfare. The area is home to Maroon Ridge, which served as a refuge for runaway slaves.

“Given growing concerns regarding beach access, environmental degradation and the loss of significant historic and other sensitive sites, all those involved in advancing this measure should be proud,” said U.S. Virgin Islands Sen. Samuel Carrion.

Bryan signed legislation Tuesday that paves the way for the formation of a territorial park system and revamps a Territorial Park System Trust Fund Board, according to a Government House press release. Those steps will allow the territory to manage and acquire land and recreational areas and implement the Maroon Sanctuary Zone on the West End of St. Croix.

During a signing ceremony at Government House on St. Croix Tuesday morning, Governor Bryan also named the first four members to the seven-member Park System Trust Fund Board: Department of Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Jean-Pierre Oriol, Sports, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Calvert White and private-sector members Carlos Tesitor Jr. of St. Croix and Conn Davis II of St. Thomas.

US Virgin Islands Creates Park System, Adds 30 Properties

Governor Bryan thanked Senator Samuel Carrion for sponsoring Bills No. 34-0267, which establishes the parks system, and 34-0268, which creates the Park System Trust Fund Board, and for the opportunity to sign legislation that can change the course of the Territory.

“Nothing gives me more pleasure than to set up a parks system that will determine a legacy of preservation for all Virgin Islanders to see in perpetuity,” Governor Bryan said. “There are so many pieces of land in the Virgin Islands, whether St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix or Water Island, that we want to see preserved in perpetuity. To do that, what we needed to do was create the Territorial Parks System of the Virgin Islands.”

The Governor said the Territorial system is similar to the National Park Service, which has allowed for the preservation of the Caneel Bay Trail, the Christiansted Fort and other landmarks in the Virgin Islands.

The legislation allows the Government of the Virgin Islands to take more than 30 properties and put them into the Territorial Parks System to be reserved for beaching, recreation, hiking trails, nature preserves and parks that will be protected from commercial development.

These areas include:

St. Croix:

  • Great Salt Pond
  • Cramer’s Park
  • Parcel No. 5 & 56 Salt River

St. John:

  • Oppenheimer Beach
  • Steven Cay

St. Thomas:

  • Cas Cay
  • Bovoni Cay
  • No. 1 Neltjeberg
  • Portion of Water Island at Sprat Bay
  • No. 6 & 7 Hassel Island

“One of those places is Maroon Ridge right here on St. Croix. Since the 1980s we have had a set-aside that was by law in order for us to create a preserve and an easement for Crucians and Virgin Islanders alike,” Governor Bryan said. “Earlier this year we took notified the owner that we were implementing a zoning condition established in 1983 for a conservation easement of 1,000 acres for such a preserve.”

Joining Commissioner Oriol and Commissioner White on the oversight commission are Tesitor and Davis.

Tesitor is the president of the Trust for Virgin Islands Lands, a Virgin Islands land preservation and conservation organization and who has experience operating a preservation trust fund.

Davis was appointed for his financial background and experience managing finances, which will be one of the principal roles of the Board, and for the fact that his family has used a preservation easement to donate land on St. Thomas to the Trust for Virgin Islands Lands.

Dry Air, Saharan Dust Shutting Down Tropical Wave’s Chances of Blossoming

MIAMI — The tropical wave in the eastern Atlantic is beginning to show its limitations, causing the National Hurricane Center to lower its odds of development.

A wave that emerged off the coast of Africa early Monday is continuing to produce a large area of disorganized cloudiness and thunderstorms a few hundred miles southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands, the NHC said in its 8 a.m. update.

Forecasters gave the system a 20 percent chance of forming in the next two days but decreased its five-day forecast odds from 40 percent to 30 percent this morning.

Dry Air, Saharan Dust Shutting Down Tropical Wave's Chances of Blossoming

The wave faces several challenges to its development, including the dry air of the Saharan dust resting over the mid-Atlantic and covering the Caribbean and Florida.

The system is moving west between 15 and 20 mph across the eastern Atlantic. Initially, hurricane specialists predicted the wave could become a tropical depression by Wednesday or the latter part of the week but have since pivoted from the prediction.

As the peak of season approaches — the time of year where the most tropical storms are observed — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its midseason forecast and is expecting an above-average number of storms this season, with a range of 14 to 21 named storms.

So far, the 2022 hurricane season has produced three named systems: Tropical Storm Alex, Bonnie, and Colin. While the 2022 season is quiet compared to the past two years, the NOAA’s records show the season is producing average numbers for the time being.

DPW Gets $2M Grant For Estate Thomas Road Project

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Estate Thomas neighborhood roads will receive a facelift in the very near future, thanks to a $2 million dollar grant from the Department of Interior.

The Department of Public Works previously prepared designs for the Estate Thomas Infrastructure Road Repairs and Rehabilitation project, however the appropriated funding from the Public Finance Authority was insufficient to complete the project. However, last year, DPW applied for the 2022 Capital Improvement Project (CIP) grant to supplement existing funding for phase one of the project and was recently notified the grant was awarded.

DPW Gets M Grant For Estate Thomas Road Project

“Now the department will undergo the environmental process in order to receive authorization to spend the funds,” said Federal Highways Project Manager Jomo McClean. “This funding will allow us to substantially complete this phase of the project.”

As one of the largest mixed-use areas in the territory, this project will make a tremendous impact on residents and visitors of the Estate Thomas community. It will comprehensively address sidewalks, drainage improvements, complete road reconstruction and pavement markings.

“We are excited to receive this CIP grant award from the Department of the Interior,” DPW Commissioner, Derek Gabriel said. “We have been awarded several grants over the past 12 months and we are encouraged by the momentum we are building. Combined with other local and federal funding sources, this gives us the opportunity to holistically enhance our communities across the Territory.”

The commissioner thanked the Department of the Interior for their continued partnership and commitment to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Bryan Commends Education For Opening Classrooms On Time

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Governor Albert Bryan hailed the successful first day of school as an “unqualified success”  and thanked the hard-working staff, teachers and administrators of the Department of Education for their efforts to provide a quality learning experience for students across the territory.

As I visited schools today on St. Thomas and St. Croix, I was met by the face of hundreds of beaming students who were excited to be back in the classroom, and I want to express my deep and sincere gratitude for all the hard work our Education employees, teachers and administrators put forth to ensure that our students are getting a quality learning experience,” Governor Bryan said.

Bryan Commends Education For Opening Classrooms On Time

The Governor also noted that the misgivings some members of the community had expressed about maintenance and operational issues at the schools were unfounded.

“The classrooms I visited were more than ready to provide students with fully functioning classrooms and other school operations, and while some residents had doubts about the schools being ready, the Department of Education doubled-down and made sure there were no issues,” Governor Bryan said. “As the Bryan-Roach Administration continues its work toward rebuilding our schools better than ever, some piecemeal issues are to be expected. But based on what I saw today, our schools have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic to provide our students with fully functioning classrooms and school facilities.”

Bryan Commends Education For Opening Classrooms On Time

Pile of Petroleum Coke Burning Doesn’t Fret New Owners of Refinery

CHRISTIANSTED — A pile of petroleum coke at the idled St. Croix refinery was found smoldering early Thursday morning, and the facility’s new owners did not issue a public notice until Sunday.

The petroleum coke, “a solid fuel that resembles charcoal,” is still burning, according to the press release from Fermin Rodriguez, vice president and refinery manager for Port Hamilton Refining and Transportation.

Rodriguez did not respond to subsequent questions from the Virgin Islands Free Press this weekend, including why it took three days for the refinery’s new ownership to issue a public notice.

Pile of Petroleum Coke Burning Doesn't Fret New Owners of Refinery

“The coker dome in Limetree has been burning hydrocarbon since Friday night, the employees on the terminal side has been complaining about the smell and management refuse to do anything about it,” a tipster told the V.I. Free Press this weekend.

It’s unclear how the situation will affect Port Hamilton’s plans to restart operations in 2023, and the company has yet to receive approval from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“EPA is aware of the recent incident at the refinery on St. Croix and is seeking additional information from Port Hamilton Refining and Transportation on the nature of this incident and the company’s response,” the EPA said on Monday.

The situation began when an automatic alarm system activated around 4:20 a.m. Thursday “inside one of the Coke Storage Domes” at the refinery, according to the statement from Port Hamilton. “A pile of petroleum coke was slowly smoldering. Employees immediately responded and set up fire hose water spray nozzles inside the coke dome to cool the material.”

Experts in petroleum coke handling traveled to the territory Friday to help suppress the smoldering, and “water is being sprayed 24 hours a day,” according to the statement. “Port Hamilton’s fence-line air monitoring network has not detected any impacts but will continue to monitor day and night. The safety of the workers and the public remains Port Hamilton’s first priority.”

Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) spokesman Jamal Nielsen declined to comment on the issue Sunday.

Coast Guard Cutter Crashes Into Fishing Boat, Killing 1 Fisherman Off Dorado

SAN JUAN — The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser and the 23-foot commercial fishing vessel Desakata were involved in a collision Monday afternoon, approximately four nautical miles north of Dorado, Puerto Rico.

Following the collision, the crew of the cutter Winslow Griesser recovered the two fishermen aboard Desakata, identified as Carlos Rosario, who was fatally injured, and his brother Samuel Rosario Beltrán, who sustained injuries but survived the collision.

“We sincerely mourn the passing of Carlos Rosario following the collision between a Coast Guard cutter and the fishing vessel Desakata this afternoon,” said Capt. José E. Díaz, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “We send our most heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and loved ones, and pray they find strength during this most difficult time. A thorough investigation will be completed to determine the causal factors that led to this collision so that we can prevent this type of incident from occurring in the future.”

Coast Guard Cutter Crashes Into Fishing Boat, Killing 1 Fisherman Off Dorado
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser

Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan were notified of the incident by the cutter Winslow Griesser crew at approximately 2:19 p.m. Monday. Coast Guard watchstanders directed the launch of a 45-foot response boat crew from Station San Juan who arrived on-scene and located the damaged fishing vessel.

The cutter Winslow Griesser transported both of the recovered fishermen to Coast Guard Base San Juan for transfer to awaiting Emergency Medical Services. EMS delivered Samuel Rosario Beltrán to the Centro Medico hospital in San Juan. The remains of Carlos Rosario will be transferred to Forensics Science Institute in San Juan.

Cutter Winslow Griesser is a 154-foot Sentinel Class fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Oil Facility Fire Jeopardizes Cuba’s Frail Electric System

HAVANA — A deadly fire that began at a large oil storage facility in western Cuba spread today, threatening to plunge the island into a deeper energy crisis as it forced officials to shut down a key thermoelectric plant.

Flames around dawn enveloped a third tank that firefighters had tried to cool as they struggle to fight the massive blaze that began just days after the government announced scheduled blackouts for the capital of Havana.

Oil Facility Fire Jeopardizes Cuba’s Frail Electric System
People watch a huge plume of smoke rise from the Matanzas supertanker base, as firefighters work to douse a fire that started during a thunderstorm the night before, in Matanzas, Cuba, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Cuban authorities say lightning struck a crude oil storage tank at the base, sparking a fire that sparked four explosions that injured more than 121 people, one person dead and 17 missing. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

At least one person has died and 125 are injured, with another 14 reported missing ever since lighting struck one of the facility’s eight tanks on Friday night. A second tank caught fire on Saturday, triggering several explosions at the facility, which plays a key part in Cuba’s electric system.

“The risk we had announced happened, and the blaze of the second tank compromised the third one,” said Mario Sabines, governor of the western province of Matanzas where the facility is located.

Firefighters had sprayed water on the remaining tanks over the weekend to cool them but failed to stop the fire from spreading. The government’s power company announced this afternoon that the fire had forced the shut down a thermoelectric plant that provides power to the island’s western region after it ran out of water, according to the official Cubadebate website. No further details were immediately available.

Oil Facility Fire Jeopardizes Cuba’s Frail Electric System
A man rides his bicycle while a sunbather looks out at as column of smoke rises from the Matanzas supertanker base in Matanzas, Cuba, on Sunday, August 7, 2022. Cuban authorities say lightning struck a crude oil storage tank at the base, sparking a fire that sparked four explosions that injured more than 121 people, with one person dead and 17 missing. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

The governments of Mexico and Venezuela have sent special teams to help extinguish the fire, with water cannons, planes and helicopters fighting the fire from several directions as military constructions specialists erected barriers to contain oil spills.

Local officials warned residents to use face masks or stay indoors given the billowing smoke enveloping the region that can be seen from the capital of Havana, located more than 65 miles away. Officials have warned that the cloud contains sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and other poisonous substances.

Oil Facility Fire Jeopardizes Cuba’s Frail Electric System
Sunbathers watch a huge plume of smoke rise from the Matanzas supertanker base, as firefighters work to douse a fire that started during a thunderstorm the night before, in Matanzas, Cuba, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Cuban authorities say lightning struck a crude oil storage tank at the base, sparking a fire that sparked four explosions that injured more than 121 people, one person dead and 17 missing. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

The majority of those injured were treated for burns and smoke inhalation, and five of them remain in critical condition. A total of 24 remain hospitalized. Over the weekend, authorities found the body of one firefighter as relatives of those still missing gathered at a hotel to await news about their loved ones.

Sabines and Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel said it was impossible to search for the missing firefighters given the roiling temperatures.

The blaze at the Matanzas Supertanker Base in Matanzas city prompted officials to evacuate more than 4,900 people, most of them from the nearby Dubrocq neighborhood. The facility’s eight huge tanks hold oil used to generate electricity, although it wasn’t clear how much fuel has been lost as a result of the flames. The first tank that caught fire was at 50 percent capacity and contained nearly 883,000 cubic feet (25,000 cubic meters) of fuel. The second tank was full.

Oil Facility Fire Jeopardizes Cuba’s Frail Electric System
People watch a huge plume of smoke rise from the Matanzas supertanker base, as firefighters work to douse a fire that started during a thunderstorm the night before, in Matanzas, Cuba, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Cuban authorities say lightning struck a crude oil storage tank at the base, sparking a fire that sparked four explosions that injured more than 121 people, one person dead and 17 missing. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Jorge Piñon, director of the Latin America and Caribbean Energy Program at the University of Texas, said officials should inspect the walls of tanks that aren’t on fire to ensure they weren’t affected. He also warned that the government must be careful before bringing the system back online once the fire is extinguished.

If not, there’ll be another catastrophe,” he said. “Unfortunately, this is going to take time.”

Piñon noted that the facility receives Cuban crude oil — operating an oil pipeline that crosses the center of the country — to be transferred via small tankers to the thermoelectric plants that produce electricity. It is also the unloading and transshipment center for imported crude oil, fuel oil and diesel, with Cuba producing only half of the fuel required to keep its economy afloat.

The blaze comes as Cuba struggles through a deep economic crisis and faces frequent power outages amid a sweltering summer, issues that helped unleashed unprecedented antigovernment protests last year. Officials have not provided a preliminary estimate of damages.

___By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ/Associated Press

‘Fierce’ Tropical Depression Expected This Week In Atlantic

MIAMI — People in the Eastern Caribbean don’t expect severe tropical weather in August, but the Atlantic Basin could have a new tropical depression later this week.

Satellite observations show a fierce tropical disturbance has emerged off the western coast of Africa and is moving west-northwestward at 15 to 20 mph across the tropical Atlantic.

This disturbance has been dubbed Invest 97L by the National Hurricane Center. An invest is simply a naming convention used by the NHC to identify an area of weather that it is investigating for possible development into a tropical depression or tropical storm within the next five days.

'Fierce' Tropical Depression Expected This Week In Atlantic

The NHC is giving Invest 97L a 40 percent chance of development and says a tropical depression could form during the second half of the week ahead.

Computer forecast models suggest that dry air and upper-level winds could diminish enough for the disturbance to slowly organize and gain a center of circulation. Once a center is evident and winds are sustained at 30 to 35 mph, the NHC will declare the disturbance a tropical depression.

Whether or not the disturbance organizes into a tropical storm remains to be seen, but FOX Weather meteorologists say the one aspect guaranteed with the system is that it will stay harmlessly out over the open waters for at least a week.

'Fierce' Tropical Depression Expected This Week In Atlantic

“For now, we’re just keeping our eyes on it to see if anything comes together,” said FOX Weather meteorologist Jane Minar. “This is likely not going to have too much of an impact, but we will continue to watch it very closely.”