Tropical Storm Humberto set to become season's first hurricane


Tropical Storm Humberto continued to gather strength Tuesday and looked poised to become the first Atlantic hurricane of the 2013 season at roughly the same time as a revived Tropical Storm Gabrielle is forecast to tear through Bermuda, bringing strong winds and rain and storm surge.

“Increasingly strong west to southwest winds expected to develop across the central Atlantic Ocean are expected to deflect this system well east of Bermuda,” The Weather Channel reported.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a series of advisories for Humberto, though the storm is not forecast to pose any significant threat to land.

The tempest was a couple hundred miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa but was hurtling away from the area. Before sweeping past Cape Verde, Humberto battered the southernmost flank of the islands with hard rain and wind gusts.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said Humberto was over the northwest Caribbean Sea and moving west at around 10 mph. It was packing 65 mph winds and was expected to reach hurricane strength by late Tuesday.

The center also reinitiated advisories for Tropical Storm Gabrielle, which had dissipated last week but had since strengthened just south of Bermuda, where a storm warning was in effect.

The storm was expected to batter Bermuda Tuesday night into Wednesday with a storm surge in coastal areas up to 3 feet as well as rain from 3 to 5 inches, the National Hurricane Center reported.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Gabrielle was packing maximum sustained of 50 mph, stronger than previously originally estimated.

So far this season, no hurricanes have cropped up in the Atlantic basin — a division that encompasses the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Humberto is the eighth tropical storm of the season, which kicked off June 1 and is slated to run through Nov. 30.

Experts said the first hurricane of the season usually forms by Aug. 10. Since the dawn of the satellite era in the mid-1960s, the latest date for the first hurricane to arrive was set in 2002 when Hurricane Gustav formed on Sept. 11.

If Humberto achieves hurricane status any time after 8 a.m. ET on Wednesday, it would replace Gustav as the modern-day record holder, forecasters said.

All three previous storms named Humberto — in 1995, 2001 and 2007 — ultimately became hurricanes, according to The Weather Channel. The 2007 cyclone evolved from a tropical depression to a hurricane in 19 hours before slamming southeast Texas.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.