First tropical depression of 2017 forms in Atlantic Ocean

The first tropical depression of 2017 formed Thursday morning in the Atlantic Ocean.

A subtropical cyclone that formed Wednesday strengthened to become the first tropical storm of the year, but it does not pose a threat to the United States.

Tropical depression No. 1 was moving northwest at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds at 35 mph.

“It’s just hanging around in the northern Atlantic over very cool waters,” Local 10 News meteorologist Jennifer Correa said.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami forecasts the tropical depression to dissipate by Thursday night or Friday.

“Not a concern to us, and it is very far away,” Correa said.

This is the third consecutive year that a storm has formed before the official start of hurricane season, which begins June 1. Tropical Storm Ana formed in May 2015 and Hurricane Alex formed in January 2016.

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‘Below Average’ hurricane season forecast for 2017

Hurricane researchers at Colorado State University are forecasting a slightly below average 2017 hurricane season in their annual predictions.

In their first predictions of the year, the CSU team is predicting 11 named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, including four hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

The report claims the probability of a major hurricane making landfall on the East Coast of the U.S., including South Florida, to be at 24 percent. The average over the last century has been 31 percent.

The forecast of a slightly below average season is due to the potential of a weak to moderate El Niño developing during the peak of the season.

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However, team members caution all residents to not let their guard down despite the below average forecast.

“It takes only one storm near you to make this an active season,” said Michael Bell, associate professor in CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science.

The team will issue an updated forecast on June 1.

The 2017 hurricane season begins on June 1 and runs through November 30.

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