Tropical Storm Earl forecast to become season’s first major hurricane; new system emerges off Africa

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Though Hurricane Danielle and Tropical Storm Earl are forecast to meander in the open Atlantic, Earl is forecast to become the season’s first major hurricane late in the week, according to the 5 p.m. EDT advisory on Sunday. Additionally, a third system has emerged off the west coast of Africa.

Tropical Storm Earl, with 50 mph maximum sustained winds and located about 110 miles north of St. Thomas and the Virgin Islands, is moving northwest at 5 mph and is expected to become a northward-moving hurricane early this week, forecasters said.

Earl’s tropical storm-force winds extended out up to 105 miles.

Earl is forecast to move away from the Caribbean on Monday and Tuesday. Hurricane Earl is expected to form Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center, and expected to become a major hurricane (at least 111 mph) on Friday.

“Earl is expected to curve sharply and quickly, allowing the storm to pass well south and east of the island. Direct impacts are unlikely, however Earl may generate rough surf and rip currents which can impact the island through this week,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert.

As of 5 p.m. Sunday, Danielle was almost 1,000 miles away from land in the northern Atlantic Ocean and inching north at 2 mph.

Forecasters say an area of low pressure could form later this week from a tropical wave near Africa, and gradual development is possible as this system moves generally west-northwestward in the Atlantic.

As of Sunday evening, the National Hurricane Center had given it a 20% chance of developing over the next five days.

Hurricane Danielle’s maximum sustained winds were at 85 mph Sunday evening, and some gradual strengthening is forecast through Monday.

Its hurricane-force winds extended 25 miles from its center, with tropical-storm-force winds extending 105 miles. As of 5 p.m. Sunday, Danielle was located about 980 miles west the Azores as it drifts over the Atlantic.

Danielle and Earl are the first named storms to form in the Atlantic since early July, when Tropical Storm Colin formed offshore of the Carolinas. This comes after a quiet August with no named storms, something that happened for only the third time since 1961.

The 2020 hurricane season set a record with 30 named systems, while 2021′s season was the third most active with 21 named systems. An average year calls for 14 named storms.

The next named storm to form will be Fiona.

Forecasters say dry air, Saharan dust and wind shear have been among the reasons there haven’t been more storms this year.

Hurricane season ends Nov. 30.