Tropical Storm Arlene forms in Gulf of Mexico
The first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season formed Friday afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Tropical Storm Arlene formed just before 1:30 p.m. with winds of 40 mph.
At 5 p.m. Friday, Arlene was 240 miles west of Fort Myers. It was moving south, southeast at 7 mph.
Forecasters said a slightly faster south-southeast motion is expected during the next day or two.
The storm will not have a direct threat to South Florida, according to WPTV First Alert Meteorologist John Gerard. However, the system with cause more stormy days through at least Saturday.
Arlene is expected to weaken by Friday night and is forecast to degenerate into a remnant low on Saturday. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles northeast of the center.
The system became a depression on Thursday, the first day of hurricane season.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its annual hurricane season forecast last week and predicted a "near-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic this year."
The outlook calls for 12 to 17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes, and one to four major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or greater.
NOAA meteorologists said there will likely be a high potential for El Niño to develop this summer, which can suppress hurricane activity in the Atlantic.
An elevated El Niño pattern — meaning warmer-than-average Pacific Ocean water — is expected to hinder some Atlantic storms from developing into tropical systems.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs through Nov. 30.
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