The first tropical depression of the 2014 has strengthened enough to become Tropical Storm Arthur. The National Hurricane Center started issuing advisories on Arthur Tuesday morning after it developed sustained winds of 40 miles per hour and issued a tropical storm watch from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach on Florida's east coast. The current movement is a slow drift toward the Florida coast.
The forecast calls for Arthur to gradually head north toward the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and possibly gain enough strength to threaten North Carolina's coastline with hurricane force winds by Friday. Looking further ahead, the five day forecast calls for a gradual bend toward the east that would brush by New England and threaten Canada's Maritime Provinces.
Air Force Hurricane Hunter C-130 aircraft are scheduled to investigate Arthur Tuesday afternoon and it's possible that NOAA may send out its high-tech Gulfstream jet as well. Early indications are that Arthur could be a difficult storm to forecast. According to NHC forecaster Stacy Stewart it looks like Arthur could well become a hurricane. “Northwesterly vertical wind shear is forecast by the models to gradually subside over the next 48 hours, which should allow the cyclone to develop it's own upper-level outflow pattern. The low shear conditions and warm sea-surface temperatures should allow for at least steady strengthening, and the cyclone is expected to become a hurricane by 72 hours.” However, if dry Saharan air gets into the mix, Arthur could end up fizzling.
While Arthur currently is getting most of the media attention, there are also signs that the Atlantic/Caribbean tea kettle is starting to boil. A tropical wave is heading west off the African coast, but forecasters expect dry Saharan air to keep it from strengthening into a cyclone. A couple of tropical waves are stirring things up in the Caribbean, but neither of them are expected to develop either.