And we're off
At approximately 10:00 a.m. CDT on Tuesday July 1, 2014, TROPICAL STORM ARTHUR became the first named storm of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season. On average, the first named storm occurs around July 9.
Located 95 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, Arthur is drifting northwest at 2mph. Current winds are 40mph with a minimum central pressure of 1007mb. Weakening shear and warm Atlantic Ocean temperatures should allow Arthur to steadily strengthen toward hurricane status as it accelerates north and then northeast through the remainder of the week. Southwesterly steering winds are anticipated to keep the storm out to sea.
In the meantime, tropical storm watches have been issued from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach in Florida as the storm is projected to strengthen and flirt with the coast. According to the National Hurricane Center, Arthur will produce 1-3" of rain with up to 5" possible through portions of Florida's Eastern Peninsula.
Of course, tropical cyclone names are cycled through on a repeating list every 6 years, unless a storm is deemed significant enough for the name to be retired. The last "Arthur" was also a tropical storm-formed on May 31 2008, in the Western Caribbean Sea. At the time, it was the first May named storm in the Atlantic since 1981. A minimal tropical storm, that "Arthur" still caused significant flooding and 9 deaths in Belize. "Arthur" kicked off a season that produced hurricanes Ike, Paloma and most notably for Louisiana, Gustav. All three names have been retired from this year's rotation of names and replaced with Isaias, Paulette and Gonzalo respectively.
As eyes widen and focus on another tropical season, now truly underway, the Gulf Coast is not alone in paying close attention to each and every disturbance that shows potential. It has been 8 years since the United States was struck by a category 3 (major) hurricane or higher. The last was Wilma in October 2005.
The United States Census estimates that 58 million people live in 185 coastal counties from Maine to Texas. 83 million people or 25% of the nation's population live in coastal states from North Carolina to Texas-areas most prone to hurricane strike. 1.8 million businesses can be found in this same zone.
You can get forecasts from Meteorologist Josh Eachus weekdays on 2une-In from 5-7am and News 2 at Noon from 12-1pm. Additionally, you can get the fastest and latest forecasts and weather news by checking in with wbrz.com/weather, liking Josh on Facebook and following him on Twitter.