Up-to-date News for Jacksonville

12 June 1999

First Depression Likely to Become Tropical Storm Arlene

A tropical depression formed far out in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday less than two weeks into the 1999 hurricane season, and forecasters said it likely will grow into Tropical Storm Arlene. Early today, Tropical Depression One, with top sustained winds of about 35 mph, was centered about 540 miles southeast of Bermuda. The perfectly formed, circular storm system was heading northeast at about 6 mph, after slowing its forward motion from 13 mph late Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center. "We don't see a lot of motion over the next three days, said a hurricane specialist at the center. Still, he said the tropical depression was expected to pick up strength and could become the season's first tropical storm today. "Bermuda is the only land anywhere near its expected path, but threre's no immediate threat to any land, the specialist said. If the depression's top sustained winds reach 39 mph, it would become Tropical Storm Arlene. Tropical storms become hurricanes once their top sustained winds reach 74 mph.

The 1999 hurricane season is forcast to be active. A Colorado State University Professor, known for the accuracy of his hurricane-frequency predictions, thinks 14 named storms will form this year, of which four will become major hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued its own pre-season forcast for the first time, calling for three or more intense hurricanes. Two is normal in the June - through - November season.

Last year, Hurricane Georges, a powerful Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of close to 150 mph, jumped from island to island through the Caribbean in late September, killing more that 500 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. A month later, Mitch grew into a monstrous Category 5 storm that stalled for days off the coast of Honduras. At lease 10,000 died and 2 million were left homeless in Central America. The director of the hurricane center, said the 1998 season was the deadliest since 1780, when records indicate a hurricane killed at least 22,000 people on Martinique, Barbados and surrounding islands.
Article posted in the Orlando Sentinel Online, 6/12/99:

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