Tropical Storm Fiona forms in central Atlantic
Posted August 17
Updated August 18
MIAMI — The U.S. National Hurricane Center says a tropical depression moving over the central Atlantic Ocean strengthened into Tropical Storm Fiona on Wednesday.
As of 10 p.m., the system was about 3,000 miles east-southeast of Raleigh, moving northwest at 16 mph with sustained winds of 40 mph.
WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said Fiona is "certainly no threat to the United States for many days, if ever." A front that is expected to cool the Triangle down a bit early next week could also deflect Fiona out into the North Atlantic, he said.
WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said that another disturbance coming off the coast of Africa behind Fiona could quickly develop into the next tropical system.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's outlook that was updated earlier this month predicts 12 to 17 named storms, including five to eight hurricanes, two to four of which could be "major."
On average, the U.S. gets 12 named Atlantic storms a season, including six hurricanes, three of them major.
The El Nino effect in the Pacific that tends to reduce Atlantic hurricane activity is now dissipating. Gerry Bell of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center said that the opposite, La Nina, phenomenon may form as the six-month season peaks, but shouldn't have a significant impact.
Landslides from Hurricane Earl killed nearly 50 people in Mexico last week. Two tropical storms have hit the U.S. this year.