Tropics heating up

After a lull -- likely due in part to a dry Saharan air over the tropical Atlantic -- the 2013 tropical-storm season is showing fresh signs of life.

An area of low pressure in the far western Caribbean is due to reach Yucatan (not "the Yucatan," a distinguished professor once implored; we don't say "the Michigan" or "the Florida") on Thursday has a 60 percent chance of becoming a named storm by day's end Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

It is expected to pass over the Gulf of Mexico, survive an encounter with drier air, and gain enough juice to spin up winds of at least 39 m.p.h., the minimum required for a name.

Meanwhile, in the far eastern Atlantic, a well-organized area of low pressure southeast of the Cape Verde Islands off the African coast has a chance to lay claim to the name "Erin," the next on the list, before its Caribbean counterpart.

The hurricane center sees a 70 percent of the eastern Atlantic system becoming a tropical storm between now and late Friday.

Whichever one is the first to claim a name, it is likely that the hurricane center will be tracking an Erin and Fernand by the weekend.

So far, four have earned a name, two more than average, but no new storm has popped up since Dorian, back on July 24.

Yes, it is way too early to say what impacts an Erin or Fernand might have on the United States.

We can say that the uptick in activity is right on schedule. On average, 11 named storms form during the season, from June 1 to Nov. 30, of those, 9 form from Aug. 13 on.

In short, 'tis the season.