Tropical Storm Helene formed Friday night between the coast of Africa and the Cabo Verde Islands, as the Atlantic hurricane season continued to heat up.
Another wave meandering over the Eastern Atlantic off the African coast intensified Friday evening to become a tropical depression that could potentially become Isaac.
Hurricane forecasters also continue to watch Florence, which weakened to a tropical depression Thursday but is expected to regain strength and blossom into a major hurricane next week.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
A second wave also popped up Friday afternoon in the western Atlantic, but so far has a slim chance of forming.
In the 11 p.m. advisory, forecasters said a system located just east of the Cape Verde Islands intensified to Tropical Storm Helene Friday night and could become a hurricane in three days. The storm had sustained winds of 40 mph Friday evening, moving west at 12 mph. It’s expected to increase speed and strengthen over the next three days. However, as it moves further west, increasing wind shear is expected to weaken the storm again early next week.
Florence was poised to rebound over the weekend and could become a hurricane again by Sunday. On Thursday, strong wind shear had helped knock it back, but that shear is expected to peak Friday. Over the next four to five days, it’s expected to become a more powerful storm with 125 mph winds.
While it’s not likely to threaten Florida, forecasters said chances are increasing that Florence could hit the U.S. coast. It’s still too early to say where, but over the next two days, it’s likely to continue heading west. A mid level ridge should develop by early next week, turning the storm to the northwest. But how much it turns remains uncertain.
The storm was located about 780 miles northeast of the northern Leeward Islands Friday evening, crawling along at 8 mph. Sustained winds had slowed to 60 mph.
The closest system, more than 1,700 miles east of the Windward Islands, had stalled and is not expected to strengthen over the next day. But over the weekend, the storm will likely begin to move westward, intensify and pick up forward speed. Sustained winds reached 35 mph Friday evening.
The brisk increase in storms in the Atlantic is not unexpected and comes as the season enters its historic peak. Up until now, seasonal Saharan dust and wind shear have helped tame storms. But the dust that blows off the coast with tropical waves began to die down last month.