A newly formed tropical depression is threatening the Caribbean and more storms could soak US coast


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(CNN) — A tropical depression has formed in the Atlantic near the Caribbean and it could become a tropical storm this weekend as the peak of hurricane season approaches.

The National Hurricane Center said Saturday that Tropical Depression Five was about 800 miles east-southeast of the Windward Islands and was moving west at 12 mph.

The depression is forecast to become a tropical storm later Saturday or by Sunday, forecasters said. It will be something to watch over the long term as it chugs along to the west.

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An area of disorganized storms just off the coast of Florida has been producing some showers across the state’s southeast region and will continue to meander up the coast during the first half of the weekend.

Once the storm moves east over open water later in the weekend, there is a better chance of intensification.

The probability is high over the next few days that a tropical cyclone will form, but the forecast models currently keep the storm offshore.

Coastal areas in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas should still monitor this system.

Chantal, meanwhile, has decreased in intensity and is no threat to land, but it is the only named storm currently in the Atlantic.

The system is closer to Europe than the United States, and not on many people’s radar.

We’re just getting started

Hurricane season is a six-month span of waiting and monitoring for storms. Coastal residents sit on pins and needles to see whether they will be impacted that season.

It’s easy to become complacent during the first half of the season, which is typically very quiet. Just because this year’s hurricane season got off to a slow start doesn’t mean it will stay that way. September 10 is considered the peak of the season, but during the end of August there is typically more development — and that’s exactly what’s happening.

“With only three named storms and one hurricane so far, it might seem like we are below average,” said CNN Meteorologist Taylor Ward. “In fact, that’s right where we should be. The three storms have all been relatively weak and short-lived, but the heart of the season is here.”

During an eight-week period that surrounds September 10, storms begin to fire up quickly. In a typical hurricane season, two-thirds of all the storms produced happen during this statistical peak.

This is because conditions in the tropics become prime for storm development. Typically, by the end of August, water in the tropics have warmed in many places to at least the mid-80s. Also, wind shear across the Atlantic starts to weaken, allowing for storms to develop.

And this year, El Nino has dissipated, making conditions even more favorable for development.

“We are heading into the Cape Verde season, where we often see the most impactful hurricanes,” said senior CNN Meteorologist Dave Hennen. “Tropical disturbances move off Africa around the Cape Verde islands and have plenty of time as they move across the Atlantic to turn into major storms. Many of the most memorable storms, like Andrew and Katrina, were Cape Verde storms, which makes this the most dangerous time of the year for hurricanes.”

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