First tropical storm of 2005 season forms in the Atlantic

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Tropical Storm Arlene on June 10, 20:15 UTC; animation.

Tropical Storm Arlene, the first named storm of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, formed as Tropical Depression One on Wednesday in the northwestern Caribbean. At 8 am Eastern Time on Thursday, it strengthened to tropical storm status. The storm was forecast to track north over the western tip of Cuba and eventually make landfall over the Gulf Coast of the United States, and the storm is producing heavy rains and gusty winds over portions of Florida.

The government of the Cayman Islands has issued a tropical storm warning for that country, and the government of the Dry Tortugas has issued a tropical storm warning. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico from Grand Isle, Florida to St. Marks, Florida. A hurricane watch is also in effect from the mouth of the Pearl River to Panama City, Florida. A tropical storm watch remains in effect from west of Grand Isle, Louisiana to Morgan City, Louisiana.

Tropical Storm Arlene has already been affecting Cuba with heavy rainfall and gusty winds. Heavy rain fall was already moving onshore well in advance of the center. Heavy rainfall, accompanied by brief gusty winds, gradually spread across western and central Cuba; and into extreme southern Florida, especially the Florida Keys. Total rainfall amounts of 5 to 10 inches, with maximum amounts of up to 15 inches in the highlands, have occurred in Cuba. 3 to 5 inches of rain is expected over the Florida Keys.

Coastal storm surge flooding of 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels, along with large and dangerous battering waves, can be expected near and to the east of where the center makes landfall. Water levels are currently about one-half foot above normal tide levels along the northern gulf coast. Some coastal flooding is possible on the southern coast of western Cuba.

Isolated tornadoes may occur over portions of southern Florida and the Florida Keys on Friday.

As of 2 pm Eastern Time on Friday, it was moving northward at 13 mph with maximum sustained wind speeds of near 60 mph, with gusts at higher speeds. A gradual turn toward the north-northwest with a slight increase in forward speed is expected during the next 24 hours. On this track, the center of Arlene will be approaching the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday. However, most of the weather associated with Arlene will arrive much earlier than the center. Tropical force winds extend outward up to 150 miles to the north and east of the center. Minimal central pressure just reported by an air force reserve reconnaissance plane was 997 millibars (mb), 29.44 inches.

The current location of the center of the storm is 27.1° N, 86.1° W, which is about 75 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, and about 400 miles south-southeast of Pensacola, Florida.

Arlene is the most commonly used name for Atlantic tropical cyclones, having now been used nine times.