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Early indications suggest that the first tropical system of 2015 could spin up off the southern Atlantic Coast of the United States later this week.
While the realm of possibilities range from a weak non-tropical low pressure area to a hybrid system or perhaps a full-blown tropical storm, winds and seas are likely to kick up along part of the East Coast beginning the middle days of this week.
A disorganized system near Cuba will drift northward this week and should become more organized off the Southeast U.S. coast later this week.
"Since the system may spend several days over the sufficiently warm water, it could develop tropical characteristics," AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
The system could meander toward the U.S. coast or drift out to sea at the end of the week and into the weekend.
"Typically, these early season storms tend to wander close to the coast," Kottlowski said.
Cruise interests from the eastern U.S. to Bermuda and the Bahamas, and people living along or heading to the coastal areas of eastern Florida to the Carolinas should closely monitor the situation.
How rough seas get and high winds become and the extent of rain will depend on the strength and track of the storm. Strong rip currents for bathers and sudden squalls for fishing and boating interests could become a concern.
The developing system would coincide with a swath of building warmth over much of the eastern half of the nation this week.
According to Chris Landsea, Ph.D., science and operations officer of the National Hurricane Center (NHC), during the period from 1851 to 2014, there have been 20 tropical storms and four hurricanes during May. A hurricane has never made landfall in the U.S. during May.
A tropical storm or hurricane in May or earlier in the year does not necessarily mean the upcoming season will be a busy one.
"The concern is that since the potential storm is so early in the season and could wander near land that people may be caught off guard," Kottlowski said.
AccuWeather.com will release its 2015 Atlantic hurricane season forecast during the middle of May. However, during the summer months the northern Gulf states could be affected as early as June, due to warmer-than-average waters.
There has tended to be more named storms early in the season during recent decades, when compared to the entire 164 years of official record keeping. However, an early season system does not necessarily mean the season will be busier than average.
"There is no correlation between a tropical storm or hurricane prior to June and an above-average hurricane season," Kottlowski said.
The last time there was a named tropical system during May was in 2012.
According to AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski, "Tropical storms Alberto and Beryl occurred during May of 2012."
The two tropical storms were followed by 10 hurricanes and seven additional tropical storms later in the 2012 season with Hurricane Chris and Tropical Storm Debby during June.
A tropical depression formed during late May of 2009. However, the first tropical storm of the 2009 season did not occur until the middle of August that year.
"There were only three hurricanes and six tropical storms during the 2009 season," Pydynowski said.
On average, there are 12 named storms in the Atlantic each year with six becoming hurricanes, according to the NHC.
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