Defying the odds, tropical storm Chris intensified over waters usually unfavorable to tropical systems, and has become the first Atlantic hurricane of 2012. It’s positioned 625 miles southeast of Newfoundland, heading northeast at 20 mph and is no threat to land.
Chris’ maximum sustained winds are 75 mph according to the National Hurricane Center, making it a minimal category one hurricane. Gradual weakening is expected as it heads into even cooler waters in the coming days.
When Chris formed on Tuesday we noted its distinction for being associated with the third most active start to an Atlantic hurricane season. Well, it now has one more distinction, according to meteorologist Jeff Masters at wunderground:
Chris attained hurricane strength unusually far to the north (41.1°N) for a June storm; only Hurricane One of 1893 was a June hurricane at a more northernly point (44°N) than Chris.
Gulf of Mexico disturbance
An amorphous, sprawling area of low pressure in the south-central Gulf of Mexico has some potential to develop into 2012’s fourth tropical storm (in the Atlantic and Gulf basin), whose name would be Debby. Presently, strong wind shear is halting development but the shear is projected to relax in the coming days. The National Hurricane Center gives it a 30 percent chance to become a named storm in the next 48 hours, but prospects may increase thereafter.
Computer model guidance is all over the map as to how this disturbance will evolve and where it will go.
Irrespective of when/whether/where it becomes a named storm, heavy rains associated with the disturbance are forecast for the Yucatan, western Cuba, and south Florida into the weekend.
Gulf Coast residents should just keep an eye on this system. We will have more on it Friday.