Hurricane outlook updates

Ernesto, which on Thursday became the seasons fifth named tropical storm, is forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane on Monday.

A 63 m.p.h. gust was reported this morning at St. Lucia, and Ernesto  was spinning across the Caribbean on a path that would bring it near Yucatan on Tuesday.

At this point, it would be a remote threat to the U.S. mainland, and wouldn't be anywhere near the U.S. Gulf Coast until late next week.

But the typical peak of the hurricane season still is a few weeks away, and the forecasters are confident that Ernesto will have several successors.

In their update posted this morning, William Gray and Philip Klotzbach at Colorado State University called for 10 more tropical storms, those with winds of at least 39 m.p.h., in the Atlantic Basin, with five of those growing into hurricanes, with winds of 74 m.p.h. or better.

Accu-Weather Inc. earlier in the week called for eight more tropical storms, and four hurricanes.

Note that neither forecast included the newly born Ernesto.

While July was dead quiet, in part because of a massive clouds of storm-inhibiting Saharan dust blowing across the Atlantic, the season got off to a record start with four named storms by June 23.

With the July lull, the forecasters see that by the time the season ends, the total numbers of named storms and hurricanes will come quite close to normal.

The normal for tropical storms during the season, which begins June 1, is 12; hurricanes, 6.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to update its forecast next week.

The wild card remains the future of the El Nino developing in the tropical Pacific. The waters have been warmer than normal out that way.

During El Nino, the warming of surface waters generates strong upper-level winds form the west that can shear off storms before they have a chance to mature.

El Nino, all of South Florida is rooting for you.

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