A compact tropical storm formed far in the Atlantic on Wednesday afternoon. It doesn’t appear to pose any threat to South Florida.
Named Fiona, the storm was located about 920 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, still miles from land, making its way west at about 16 mph. Sustained winds reached 40 mph at 5 p.m. with tropical storm force winds extending about 25 miles.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami expect the storm to continue strengthening over the next two days as it slows over warm water but say it will likely weaken as it encounters strong wind shear by day three.
Because the storm is so tight and small, it’s more prone to quicker jumps in intensity, forecasters said. While they expect the strong wind shear to keep it in check on a more southerly course, they also warn beyond four days winds could decrease. Warmer ocean waters could also cause it strengthen as it moves across the open Atlantic.
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Fiona becomes the sixth named storm this year. The 2016 Atlantic season got off to an early start with a rare January storm and was initially forecast to be an average season with 10 to 16 named storms, four to eight hurricanes and one to four major storms packing winds over 110 mph.
But last week forecasters revised projections after the strong El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific, which can help tamp down hurricanes, fizzled. They now expect 12 to 17 named storms and as many as four to eight hurricanes with two to four major hurricanes.