Atlantic Starting To Churn: Gustav And Hanna Being Watched

As reported by Susan Porter for Tampa Bay Newspaper.

PINELLAS COUNTY – The National Hurricane Center won't be taking time off this Labor Day, not with two storms making their way toward possible landfall in the United States.

The current maps show Florida sandwiched between the two systems. The only good news is that for now the state is not in either five-day tracking cone.

While everyone's attention was focused on Gustav, forecast to be near the coast of Louisiana as a Category 3 storm in 120 hours, the eighth tropical storm of the season formed Thursday morning northeast of the Leeward Islands in the Atlantic.

Tropical Storm Hanna is expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane within 72 hours.

While it's still too early to tell with any certainty when or where Hanna might make landfall, the storm's five-day track does show it headed toward the U.S. east coast.

Emergency officials continue to urge residents in hurricane-prone areas to keep a close eye on the weather. September is the historically the busiest time of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

If the experts are right, more storms will come in the next few months. The NHC is currently keeping an eye on two additional tropical weather systems currently out in the Atlantic.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Aug. 7 an increased possibility of an above-normal hurricane season.

Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray, professors at the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, released undated predictions for 2008 on Aug. 5, which also forecast increased activity in the Atlantic basin for the remainder of the season.

NOAA now predicts as many as 14 to 18 named storms could form in 2008, of which seven to 10 are expected to become hurricanes, with three to six becoming major hurricanes.

Gray and Klotzbach's latest estimates call for 17 named storms, nine hurricanes and five intense (major) hurricanes. A major hurricane is a Category 3 or above.

An updated report is scheduled for release on Sept. 2.

For the full story head to The Tampa Bay Newspaper.