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Patty Weakens to Depression as New Storm May Form

Patty was downgraded to a depression from a tropical storm as a second system threatened to form in the eastern Caribbean Sea, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Patty’s top winds dropped to 35 miles (56 kilometers) per hour in the Atlantic about 265 miles east-northeast of the central Bahamas, according to a 4:30 p.m. hurricane center advisory. The storm, which formed yesterday, may break up by tomorrow, the statement said.

Farther to the southeast, the center is tracking a system that has a 90 percent chance of becoming the season’s 17th storm within the next two days. It would be named Rafael and may become a tropical storm as early as tonight, the center said.

“If a tropical storm forms, warnings would be needed for portions of the Lesser Antilles and the Virgin Islands,” according to a hurricane center bulletin at 5 p.m.

Sixteen storms have formed in the Atlantic this year, making it the fifth-most-active season and tying it with 2008, 2003 and 1936, according to Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The basin has also exceeded early seasonal predictions from both the U.S. Climate Prediction Center and Colorado State University.

The most active season was 2005, which produced 28 storms including Hurricane Katrina.

The U.S. predicted nine to 15 storms and Colorado State researchers called for 13 during the season that runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Patty, which is stationary, is being torn apart by wind shear, the hurricane center said.

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