The first tropical storm of our hurricane season has arrived and we call her Arlene. Having grazed western Cuba with very heavy rains and winds around 45mph, the event is so far being described as "welcome relief from the island's severe drought" according to CNN. Well... that's nice to hear.
Arlene is like an overexcited child, wasting no time kicking off the Atlantic Hurricane season which officially started just 9 days ago. The storm has been gaining strength and a little more organization which has prompted the National Hurricane Center to issue hurricane watches indicating:
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 60 MPH... 95 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER GUSTS. SOME STRENGTHENING IS FORECAST DURING THE NEXT 24 HOURS...AND IT IS POSSIBLE THAT ARLENE COULD REACH HURRICANE STRENGTH BEFORE LANDFALL.
A Category 1 hurricane has sustained winds between 74-95 mph. The projected path has Arlene making landfall in the U.S. somewhere between Grand Isle, LA and St. Marks, FL and then pretty much plowing straight up the country while dissipating into a tropical depression. We'll see what that does to our own weather. While currently the winds may not seem overly threatening, the storm will also be bringing heavy rains, dangerous storm surge, and a potential for tornadoes as well.
Arlene is no doubt getting the amount of attention she is because she is the first to arrive this season, and while the storm is potentially dangerous and should not be taken for granted, there is little doubt that this is just the beginning, and we are probably in for much worse this summer.
NOAA's Arlene Storm Tracker.