FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Tropical Storm Paulette and Tropical Storm Rene, the season's 16th and 17th named storms formed in the Atlantic on Monday, and now Rene is expected to strengthen into the season's fifth hurricane this week, forecasters said Tuesday.
Rene, which formed Monday off Africa's west coast, is likely to become a Category 1 hurricane in the next two to three days, the National Hurricane Center said in a forecast discussion.
As of 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Rene was about 265 miles west-northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands with top winds measuring 40 mph. It was moving west at 16 mph.
Tropical Storm Paulette was located about 1,230 miles east of the eastern boundary of the Caribbean and had maximum sustained winds measuring 65 mph, according to a 5 p.m. advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center. Category 1 hurricanes form when maximum sustained winds are in the range of 73 to 95 mph.
Paulette picked up some speed Tuesday to 8 mph, from 6 mph earlier. Its development is expected to be limited by storm-weakening wind shear.
Paulette is forecast to continue to move northwest Tuesday in the tropical Central Atlantic, then shift west-northwestward Wednesday through Friday. Tropical storm-force winds extend up to 105 miles from its center.
"Moderate additional strengthening is possible today and Paulette could be near hurricane strength by tonight," the hurricane center said. "Gradual weakening is expected by late Wednesday."
Though it is early, models seem to indicate the storms' tracks will stay offshore, posing no threat to Florida or the United States.
The National Hurricane Center said Tuesday that two more tropical depressions may form this week - one potentially off the Carolina coast and the other from a yet-to-form tropical wave over Africa.
An area of low pressure that emerged early Sunday near Bermuda could become a tropical depression in the next few days as it moves generally west along the U.S. southeast coast, forecasters said. It has been given a 40% chance of development.