Tropical Storm Paulette strengthens in central Atlantic

Sept. 8 (UPI) — Tropical Storm Paulette has strengthened as it’s moved westward across the central Atlantic Ocean, forecasters said Tuesday.

In its 11 p.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said Paulette was about 1,230 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands and 1,400 miles west-northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. It had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and was moving to the northwest at 9 mph.

It picked up speed Tuesday morning and became “noticeably” more organized since Monday night.

The storm is forecast to continue strengthening throughout the day with expectations it will weaken Thursday evening and into Friday, the NHC said. Forecasters warned, though, it’s possible the storm could briefly strengthen to a hurricane.

Paulette, which formed early Monday, is projected to turn west-northwestward or westward Tuesday night and Wednesday .

The 16th named storm of the 2020 season, Paulette set another record for the basin. This is the earliest on record that a “P” named storm has developed, according to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach. The previous record was set by Philippe in 2005.

The system will track generally to the west-northwest across the Atlantic and should pass well north of the Lesser Antilles late in the week.

“All residents and interests of the Lesser Antilles, especially the Leeward Islands, should closely monitor the progression of this evolving tropical system,” Accuweather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said.

Another strong tropical wave is projected to emerge from the African Coast late in the week.

Farther west, a weak tropical wave over the Caribbean Sea has a low chance of development but could bring an uptick in showers and thunderstorms across southern Hispaniola and Jamaica over the next few days.

Another area being monitored is a bit closer to the United States.

“An area of low pressure currently to the southeast of Bermuda will track to the west early this week,” Douty said. “Atmospheric conditions are only marginally favorable for development through this time and there is only a low chance for development.”

However, if the storm’s forward progression slows down, the wind shear in the area could decrease and allow the storm to become more organized.

Interests along the Southeast coast should pay close attention to this feature, regardless of development, as it could bring an uptick in drenching showers and thunderstorms, as well as rough surf and rip currents, toward the middle and latter part of the week.

The next tropical storm name on the list for 2020 in the Atlantic is Sally.

As was the case with Paulette, there is a significant chance more early formation records will fall and join Cristobal, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana and Omar as top of the list for early formation for their respective letters.

Before Rene, Rita, which formed on Sept. 18, 2005, was the record holder for the earliest “R” named storm on record.

Early this summer, AccuWeather meteorologists predicted a hyperactive peak hurricane season. Meteorologists are calling for up to 24 tropical storms and up to 11 hurricanes in total this season.

These numbers mean that the Greek alphabet will have to be utilized for tropical storm names, which was only done in one other season: 2005.

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