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System May Be First Atlantic Tropical Storm

June 15, 2010

The National Hurricane Center warned on Monday that a low-pressure area forming in the Atlantic may become the first tropical storm of the 2010 hurricane season.

As officials keep an eye on weather reports, the center released a statement saying there is a 60 percent chance “of this system becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours.”

Any major storms pushing toward the Gulf of Mexico this season could pose big troubles for the oil-stricken waters, possibly pushing the oil-slick further ashore and into new states, and could also bring more havoc to earthquake-ravaged Haiti where hundreds of thousands of people are still living in unstable conditions.

Forecasters are predicting a rough 2010 hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last month forecasted an “active to extremely active” hurricane season. It says there may be 14 to 23 named storms, including 8 to 14 becoming hurricane strength. It said anywhere from 3 to 7 were likely to become “major” storms, with winds of 111 mph or greater.

An average six-month hurricane season has 11 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, and two of those becoming major.

“If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record,” NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco in May said. “The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared,” she said.

If the system in the Atlantic becomes a named system, it will be dubbed Alex, the hurricane center said.

Image Caption: Hurricane Ike over Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Ike was a strong Category 2 storm when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image at 12:05 p.m. CDT on September 12, 2008. The massive storm was already starting to pound the Texas and Louisiana coast with high winds and battering waves, even though the eye of the storm remained well off shore. The National Hurricane Center forecast that the storm’s center would come ashore immediately west of Houston late on September 12 or early September 13. Credit: NASA

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