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Potential Tropical Cyclone Looms Off East Coast
The storm is producing thunderstorms and strong winds.
Credit: NOAA.

A swirling patch of stormy weather off the coast of the eastern United States could blow up into a tropical cyclone — the umbrella term for tropical storms and hurricanes — within the next 48 hours, according to the latest outlook from the National Hurricane Center.

satellite snapped a picture of the storm yesterday (June 18) as it swirled over the temperate waters of the mid-Atlantic Ocean, many miles east of Maryland and New Jersey. It is moving northeast between 10 and 15 mph (16 and 24 kph), and this morning (June 19) the storm is east of Maine.

The gale has a 50 percent chance of gaining the strength of a tropical cyclone, forecasters said.

So far, only two named storms — a category that includes both tropical storms and hurricanes — have churned to life in the Atlantic basin this year. Tropical Storm Albertoand Tropical Storm Beryl roared to life in late May, before the official start of hurricane season on June 1.

The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts until Nov. 30,is projected to be a normal one, according to forecasters.

The outlook indicates a near-normal season is likely, with a total of nine to 15 named storms for the Atlantic in 2012. Of those storms, between four and eight are likely to become hurricanes — organized, rotating storms with sustained winds of 74 mph (119 kph) or faster.

Between one and three are likely to become major hurricanes, defined as Category 3 storms or above — hurricanes with winds of at least 111 mph (179 mph).

In the eastern Pacific Ocean, three named storms have spun up so far this season, including Hurricane Carlotta, which drenched the west coast of southern Mexico last weekend.

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