(Bloomberg) — A mass of thunderstorms moving across the central Atlantic prompted a handful of tropical storm watches for Caribbean islands and potentially signals an active hurricane season this year.
The patch of wild weather was 1,195 miles (1,923 kilometers) east of the Windward Islands with top winds of 35 miles per hour, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a statement. Tropical storm watches were posted on St. Vincent, the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Barbados, and Martinique. On its current track, the system could hit Haiti Saturday and make landfall in Cuba Sunday with winds of 60 miles per hour.
“The system is expected to become a tropical storm before reaching the Lesser Antilles and tropical storm conditions are possible beginning Friday,” Jack Bevin, a senior hurricane specialist, wrote in his forecast.
Four storms have formed in the Atlantic near the U.S. this year, though this would be the first formed between the Caribbean and Africa. That’s significant because storms taking shape there before August often means that the hurricane season as a whole will be quite active, said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the Colorado State University seasonal hurricane forecast.
“While, in general, early season activity isn’t much of a harbinger of what may come later in the season, if we get storms forming in the eastern-central tropical Atlantic prior to August, that is typically a harbinger of a very active season,” Klotzbach said earlier this week.
Tropical Storm Claudette struck the U.S. earlier this month, killing at least a dozen people. Tropical Storm Danny made landfall in South Carolina Monday. The current system will be named Elsa if it reaches tropical storm strength.