While both flooding and recovery continues in the wake of Hurricane Irene, the National Hurricane Center is expecting a hurricane to form well out in the Atlantic this week.
The hurricane will be called Katia (assuming that no other named storms form first) and will face a long trek westward across the Atlantic. Even by the middle of the holiday weekend, it will be 600 to 800 miles to east of the U.S. coast and would pose no immediate threat. It will even be to the east of the Leeward and Windward islands (most likely to the northeast).
In other words, it's much too early to project whether the hurricane would ever pose a direct threat to any of these regions (including the U.S.), and computer forecast models indicate that it might turn northward before approaching these areas.
Again, it's too early to know for sure.
What is much more certain is that we're nearing the peak of hurricane season, which is roughly in the middle of September.
This allows for the possibility that before Katia's ultimate track is determined, a different tropical storm or hurricane could develop and become a more immediate threat to land. The regions of possible development would be the western Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico, with the Gulf being the most likely location for development.
Forecast models are predicting a low pressure system to develop this week in the Gulf, which would need to be monitored for tropical development. If it were to develop and reach tropical storm or hurricane strengthen, then it would be called Tropical Storm or Hurricane Lee.
Nothing is certain about the prospects of tropical development in the Gulf, but the point is this: Even though the next hurricane will likely be in the distant, non-threatening eastern Atlantic, we need to stay alert.
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