A low pressure system out over the Atlantic Ocean that has been watched closely by hurricane forecasters has now developed into Tropical Storm Gordon as expected. It is the seventh named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.
As of yesterday (Aug. 15), the low pressure system was given a 90 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone, the blanket term for tropical storms, hurricanes and typhoons. Sure enough, the 5 a.m. Atlantic Standard Time update from the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced that the system had intensified and was now classified as a tropical storm.
Gordon was the next name on the 2012 Atlantic season name list, which is set by the World Meteorological Organization. Lists are drawn up for seven seasons out and the lists rotate. Names alternate between male and female names.
As of the 5 a.m. update, Gordon had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and was located about 580 miles (940 kilometers) east of Bermuda and 1,600 miles (2,600 km) west of the Azores.
The storm is not currently a threat to any land areas, but it is moving toward the north-northeast and could threaten the Azores early next week.
Gordon is expected to strengthen over the next 48 hours as it moves over warmer ocean waters, according to the NHC, and could become a hurricane over the weekend. Current projections though have it weakening into an extratropical storm (meaning it lacks tropical characteristics) before it reaches the Azores, though intensity forecasts that far out are highly subject to change.
The NHC update noted that Gordon is a small storm, with tropical-storm force winds extending out for only 25 miles (35 km).
If Gordon doe become a hurricane, it will be the third one of the 2012 Atlantic season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which runs the NHC, updated their forecast for the season last week, upping the number of storms expected. The forecast now estimates that there will be between 12 and 17 named storms, of which five to eight are expected to become hurricanes.