As of 8:50 a.m. ET, the system has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and was moving west-northwest at 12 mph.
Eric Blake, a senior hurricane scientist at the NHC, said on Twitter that the storm was “looking pretty impressive lately as well” as it moved over the open Atlantic, and was “one to watch” for the Winward Islands.
There are currently no coastal watches or warnings for the depression, according to the NHC.
Interests in the Windward Islands are advised to monitor this system.
Gonzalo set a record for the earliest named seventh tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, the latest of storms this season to do so.
Tropical Storm Gert formed July 24, 2005, making it the previous record holder, according to Colorado State University hurricane research scientist Phil Klotzbach.
Klotzbach also notes that 2005, a record-breaking year, already had three hurricanes and two major hurricanes by July 21.
“2020 has yet to have a named storm reach hurricane strength,” he tweeted.
While it has strengthened, Gonzalo is likely to weaken as it encounters a less favorable environment in the Caribbean over the weekend.
Separate tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico shows signs of life
A tropical wave moving through the southeastern Gulf of Mexico also could develop by Friday, when it reaches the Texas/Louisiana coast.
As of Wednesday morning, the NHC said there’s a 50 percent chance over five days it forms into something more.
As of now, the system is causing showers and thunderstorms over the eastern Gulf of Mexico, central and southern Florida, and into western Cuba.
If it develops, it likely won’t have the chance to organize into more than a tropical storm.
Regardless of development, chances of showers and thunderstorms will increase along the Gulf Coast through the rest of the week.
An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate the system later on Wednesday, according to the NHC.
The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season will include the names: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.