Tropical Storm Fiona Forms in Atlantic West of Cape Verde

  • Tropical system won’t be a threat to land, forecasters say
  • Storm will have to dodge dry air, wind shear to strengthen

Tropical Storm Fiona, which formed more than 900 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, is forecast to track across the open Atlantic for at least the next five days, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Fiona, the sixth storm of 2016, had top winds near 45 miles (75 kilometers) per hour and was moving northwest at 16 mph, the Miami-based center said in a 5 a.m. advisory note. Some additional strengthening of the storm is possible Thursday followed by “slow weakening by the weekend,” the notice said. There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.

“I don’t think Fiona will be a threat to any land areas,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “It will probably survive for the next five days.”

Although the six-month hurricane season began June 1, some storms formed in the basin early. In January, Hurricane Alex became the most powerful Atlantic storm since 1938 when it formed in the central part of the ocean.

The Atlantic storm season can close oil and natural gas platforms, curb gasoline supplies and damage orange crops. More than 6.6 million homes with an estimated reconstruction cost of $1.5 trillion lie in vulnerable areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Fiona has managed to avoid dry air that plagued it earlier, said Stacy Stewart, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center. While dodging the drier conditions gave it a chance to strengthen Thursday, it’s unlikely to continue worsening.

“Although not shown explicitly in the forecast, atmospheric conditions could become so hostile that Fiona would degenerate into a remnant low later in the forecast period,” according to the notice from the hurricane center, referring to the point where the storm loses its status as a tropical cyclone.

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