Tropical Storm Maria Forms in Atlantic

GOES-13 captured the clouds associated with tropical Storm Lee's remnants, and a warm front along the U.S. East coast on Sept. 7 at 9:02 a.m. EDT. Hurricane Katia is moving between Bermuda and the U.S., while farther east is newborn Tropical Storm Maria. (Image credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project)

Tropical Depression 14 became Tropical Storm Maria out over the Atlantic today, the 13th named storm of the 2011 hurricane season.

Maria has maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph) and is currently about 1,305 miles (2,095 kilometers) to the east of the Lesser Antilles.

The storm is not currently a threat to land, but its westward movement could take it over some of the outermost Caribbean isles and eventually over Puerto Rico. The National Hurricane Center's five-day forecast doesn't have Maria intensifying into a hurricane.

As Maria formed, Hurricane Katia continued churning out at sea. It has weakened to a Category 1 storm with winds of 85 mph (140 kph), and though a tropical storm watch is in effect for Bermuda, Katia is not expected to pose a major threat to land. [Astronauts Admire Hurricane Katia from Above ]

The 2011 hurricane season has been predicted to spawn an above-average 14 to 19 named storms (which include tropical storms and hurricanes), seven to 10 hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes. An average Atlantic hurricane season will see 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. August through October are the peak months of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Meteorologists are also watching a system in the Gulf of Mexico that has a high potential of becoming a more organized system. If it becomes a tropical storm, it will be named Nate.

Live Science Staff
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