A tropical storm formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, just a day after the start of the, NOAA forecasters said. Tropical Storm Arlene becomes the first named storm of the season.
The system started as just ain the Gulf of Mexico late Wednesday night, with only a 20% chance of becoming a cyclone within 48 hours. But by early Thursday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said it could become a tropical storm, with a 70% chance of development. It was originally dubbed Invest 91L before upgrading to Tropical Depression Two, and now, Arlene.
The National Hurricane Center announced the newshortly after 1:30 p.m. ET on Friday, saying there is “no significant threat to land.”
Arlene has sustained winds of up to 40 mph with even higher gusts, and is moving at just about 5 mph, although that movement speed is expected to “increase slightly” through the night, the center said. The storm’s path shows it moving south toward Cuba, and it, for now, appears that it will lose some of its wind speed to once again be a tropical depression by Saturday morning.
The strong winds of the storm extend 70 miles outward, but the center said that the rain projected to hit central and south Florida is “not directly related to Tropical Storm Arlene.” Those areas are forecast to receive 1 to 2 inches of rain through Saturday, with some areas seeing up to 5 inches.
“Regardless, the heavy rainfall could lead to isolate flash, urban, and small stream flooding impacts,” the center warned.
The National Hurricane Center had been expecting the tropical storm to form, saying Thursday that the low pressure system that started over the Gulf of Mexico had a “broad but well-defined circulation with maximum sustained winds of about 35 mph.”
“The official NHC forecast still calls for the system to briefly become a tropical storm before environmental conditions become increasingly hostile later on Friday and into Saturday,” the center said Thursday.