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.
A tropical weather outlook showed that the disturbance could potentially move on a west-northwest path toward coastal North Carolina and South Carolina. As of the latest advisory, it was located 450 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Finally, a tropical wave was expected to emerge off the African coast on Wednesday or Thursday and head west over the Atlantic. Forecasters said it is likely to become a tropical depression late this week or over the weekend as it moves across the eastern tropical Atlantic. It has been given an 80% chance of development.
This is the time of year when storms tend to form in the open Atlantic, particularly near the Cabo Verde Islands. Those storms, which grow in size and intensity as they make the long trek westward across the Atlantic Ocean, are historically the most powerful and destructive hurricanes.
So far, there have been 17 tropical storms and four hurricanes this season, which runs from June 1-Nov. 30.
Laura was the season's first major hurricane, making landfall in Cameron, La., as a Category 4 on Aug. 27. Hanna, Isaias and Marco were Category 1 hurricanes that made landfall in Padre Island, Texas; Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina.; and at the mouth of the Mississippi River, respectively.
Pauline and Rene set records for earliest "P" and "R" storms in any Atlantic hurricane season, breaking the record held by Philippe and Rita back in 2005, according to Colorado State University Meteorologist Phil Klotzbach.
The remaining monikers for named storms this season in the Atlantic are: Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred. Any storms after Wilfred would be named after letters in the Greek alphabet. That has only happened once - in the 2005 hurricane season, according to The Weather Channel.
The tropical weather experts at Colorado State University predicted that 2020 could possibly be the second-busiest season on record, behind only 2005, the year that produced Katrina and Wilma. In August, the federal government issued an updated forecast for the season, predicting as many as 25 storms, which is more than the agency has ever forecast.
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