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Hurricane Season Marches on with Tropical Storm Nicole

GOES-13 visible image of Tropical Storm Nicole (center, bottom) at 1432 UTC (10:32 a.m. EDT) shows the extensive cloud cover (which is also associated with a trough of low pressure) extending north into the Mid-Atlantic U.S. states. (Image credit: NOAA/NASA GOES Project)

After a quiet few days in the Atlantic basin and Gulf of Mexico, a newly formed tropical storm is blowing across the Caribbean.

Tropical Storm Nicole strengthened from a tropical depression and was upgraded to a tropical storm this morning (Sept. 29) by the National Hurricane Center. Nicole has maximum wind speeds of 40 mph (65 kph). A system is upgraded to a tropical storm when it has winds stronger than 39 mph (63 kph).

Nicole is situated over the center of Cuba and is dumping rain over that country, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. The storm is moving to the northeast and is expected to move through the Florida Straits this afternoon and possibly over the Bahamas tonight. Nicole is expected to become an extra-tropical storm and move upwards along the East Coast of the United States.

Tropical Storm Nicole is the 14th named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. Named storms include tropical storms and hurricanes.

The 2010 hurricane season was predicted to be a busier-than-average one, with 17 named storms, 10 of which were expected to become hurricanes. So far there have been six hurricanes this season. An average hurricane season, in comparison, has 11 tropical storms with six of them becoming hurricanes.

Hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends on Nov. 30 each year. The busiest part of the season is typically late August through early October, when ocean waters are at their warmest, providing the fuel that drives these ferocious spinning storms.

If another named storm forms this season, it will be dubbed Otto.

Andrea Thompson
Andrea Thompson

Andrea Thompson is an associate editor at Scientific American, where she covers sustainability, energy and the environment. Prior to that, she was a senior writer covering climate science at Climate Central and a reporter and editor at Live Science, where she primarily covered Earth science and the environment. She holds a graduate degree in science health and environmental reporting from New York University, as well as a bachelor of science and and masters of science in atmospheric chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology.