The first tropical storm of the year may be forming in the Atlantic, even though the Atlantic Hurricane Season doesn't officially start until June 1.
National Hurricane Center forecasters said, according to a special statement issued Monday afternoon, that there is a 70 percent chance a tropical or subtropical system will form a few hundred miles southwest of Bermuda in the next 48 hours. A Hurricane Hunter Aircraft flew into the area of disturbed weather, referred to by Meteorologists as “Invest 90”, Monday afternoon. A second flight is also scheduled Tuesday, if necessary.
Data from the first couple of passes by the plane did not conclusively determine whether a low-level center of circulation had been established, nor did it find winds high enough to classify Invest 90 as a tropical depression. If sustained winds of 39 mph or greater are discovered, the tropical or subtropical storm will be named “Andrea”.
Heavy rain and gusty winds from the system may affect Bermuda Tuesday and Wednesday, regardless of whether it becomes a named tropical storm or not. The system is likely to interact with an approaching front and encounter a hostile environment Wednesday, making additional strengthening unlikely later this week.
Statistically, a tropical storm only forms between December 31 and May 31 (during the “off season”) in the Atlantic Basin once every five years, but ironically there has been one each of the past four years. According to data from the National Hurricane Center's web site, the average date of the first named tropical cyclone is July 9.