The fifth tropical storm of the 2005 Atlantic Basin hurricane season has formed, setting a record.
Emily's emergence as a named tropical storm late Monday marks the earliest that five tropical storms have ever been documented, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Emily is expected to become a hurricane. The storm is forecast to move through the Caribbean and be south of Cuba Sunday, possibly then heading -- you guessed it -- toward the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Hurricane Dennis, which made landfall over the weekend, took a similar path.
Hurricane watches were posted Tuesday morning for Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A tropical storm watch was issued for Tobago.
The storm's path is expected to take it near Puerto Rico by Friday. It could approach the U.S. mainland early next week, forecasters said.
At 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), Emily was centered 575 miles (925 kilometers) east-southeast of Barbados and was moving west at about 19 mph (31 kph), up from 13 mph (21 kph) on Monday. It had maximum sustained wind of about 50 mph (80 kilometers)and was expected to strengthen while gradually turning toward the west-northwest.
Hurricanes have sustained wind of at least 74 mph (119 kph).
The record start does not affect pre-season predictions, which had already called for an active hurricane year. The heightened activity is part of a long term trend, scientists say.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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