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Tropical Storm Florence Joins Ernesto in Atlantic

Tropical Storm Ernesto seen by a NASA satellite
On Aug. 2, 2012, at 10:20 a.m. NASA's Terra satellite captured this stunning visible image of Tropical Storm approaching the Lesser Antilles. The image showed the highest, strongest thunderstorms on the eastern side of the storm from north to south. (Image credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team )

The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season is heating back up after a month-long lull as Tropical Storm Florence forms in the eastern Atlantic, joining Tropical Storm Ernesto currently in the Caribbean.

Tropical Depression Six formed late last night (Aug. 3) and became Tropical Storm Florence as of 8 a.m. AST Saturday morning. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and is currently 330 miles (530 kilometers) west of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands, which lie off the west coast of Africa.

Florence is moving in to the west and the forecast from the U.S. National Hurricane Center doesn't see it developing into a hurricane or threatening land.

Tropical Storm Ernesto, meanwhile, has strengthened slightly since becoming a tropical storm on Aug. 2, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph). Ernesto is currently 305 miles (490 kilometers) south-southwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and 690 miles (1,115 km) east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica and headed in a westward direction.

Ernesto is expected to move into the central and eastern Caribbean over the weekend and could pass near or to the south of Jamaica, which has issued a tropical storm watch, on Sunday. Ernesto could become a hurricane by then, according to the NHC.

Before Ernesto and Florence formed, Debby, which formed all the way back in late June, was the most recent storm. Ernesto is the fifth named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season and will be the second hurricane if it becomes one. Florence is the sixth named storm of the season, which was predicted to be a "near-normal" one with nine to 15 named storms (storms receive a name when they reach tropical storm status), of which between four and eight are likely to become hurricanes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be issuing an updated forecast for the remainder of the season on Thursday (Aug. 9). August and September are typically the busiest months of the hurricane season.

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.