Tropics stirring as Ernesto reaches hurricane strength

  • Tropical Storm Ernesto is expected to reach hurricane status by early Wednesday morning.
Tropical Storm Ernesto is expected to reach hurricane status…
August 07, 2012|By Scott Dance

Tropical Storm Ernesto will strike Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as a hurricane early Wednesday, the first Atlantic hurricane to make landfall this year. Two other potential storms meanwhile churn in the middle of the Atlantic.

Ernesto's winds reached 80 mph by 2 p.m. Tuesday, making it a Category 1 hurricane. The storm is moving at 14 mph.

The National Hurricane Center is predicting Ernesto will weaken to a tropical storm once it reaches the Yucatan, but then it could regain strength after passing over the peninsula and strike near Veracruz as a hurricane as well.

Forecasters are watching two other areas in the Atlantic for possible tropical cyclone formation, but neither has been given a strong chance of strengthening.

What was Tropical Storm Florence has a 10 percent chance of redeveloping, according to the hurricane center.

A larger area of storms off the African coast stands a 20 percent chance of evolving into a tropical storm, according to forecasts.

The Atlantic is approaching the heart of its annual hurricane season, with a typical spike in activity from mid-August to mid-September. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will update its hurricane season outlook in a teleconference Thursday.

AccuWeather recently upheld its previous season forecast of five hurricanes, two of them major hurricanes and two of them expected to impact the U.S.

Formation of an El Nino climate pattern would have a significant impact on tropical cyclone formation, and odds of an El Nino developing are expected to jump over the next few months. We'll see what NOAA officials have to say about the possibility on Thursday.

Have a weather question? E-mail me at sdance@baltsun.com or tweet to @MdWeather.

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