While it’s still too early to say when or where they will wind up, two of the three storms rolling across the Atlantic could become tropical cyclones over the next five days, National Hurricane Center forecasters said Wednesday afternoon.
The closest disturbance, located about 800 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, will likely become better organized over the next few days as it encounters weaker wind shear that can smother a hurricane. Forecasters expect the system to cross the Caribbean Sea on Friday and continue heading west over the weekend on a track headed toward Nicaragua and Honduras.
A hurricane hunter plane is scheduled to take a look at the storm Thursday.
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Forecasters say it will likely move at a fairly quick clip, between 15 and 20 mph, so interests in the islands should stay alert. They gave the system a 40 percent chance of becoming a cyclone over the next two days and a 50 percent chance over five days.
Farther west, two more systems — one just west of the Cabo Verde Islands and a second wave off Africa’s west coast — are also expected intensify. The low pressure system near the islands could potentially pose a bigger risk to the U.S., with models pointing it toward the northwest. Over the next few days, weaker winds will likely allow it to become better organized before it encounters stronger winds that could begin to shred it north of the Leeward Islands. Forecasters gave the disturbance a 40 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone over the next two days and 50 percent in five days.
The tropical wave packing thunderstorms and showers could also gain steam as it rolls into the Central Atlantic, with the odds of a cyclone forming in five days at 40 percent.
Hurricane Gert, which swept off the U.S. coast this week, also continued to gain speed and strength, with sustained winds topping 100 mph. In their 5 p.m. advisory, forecasters said the hurricane was racing to the northeast at 31 mph and located 410 miles south of Halifax, Nova Scotia. They expect Gert to begin to weaken Thursday but continue to churn up dangerous swells from Virginia to New England.
Historically, hurricane season peaks from mid August to late September when conditions are generally more favorable for more intense cyclones. Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration nudged up its forecast for the season after concluding the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean were likely setting the stage for more hurricanes.
They now expect the season to produce 14 to 19 named storms, five to nine hurricanes and two to five major hurricanes with winds topping 110 mph.
Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich