You might call Wednesday a big day for the tropics: two tropical storms emerged in Maria and Nate. That's not to mentionHurricane Katia, which is still out there, churning away.
After forming in the Atlantic on Wednesday morning, Maria came under immediate attack by wind shear and is no longer predicted to intensify into a hurricane, at least for the next five days.
Indeed, its top winds now are projected to remain at 50 mph through Monday, or what would amount to a rather mediocre tropical storm.
“The shear in combination with the rapid forward speed support keeping Maria with little change in intensity through five days,” senior hurricane specialist Lixion Avila wrote in the latest advisory.
At 11 p.m. on Wednesday, Maria was about 1,070 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, racing west at 23 mph.
The projected track continues to reduce the risk to Florida.
Under the latest forecast, Maria would move east of Puerto Rico on Saturday, north of Hispaniola on Sunday and about 600 miles due east ofMiami on Monday.
The reason the system is expected to north before reaching the United States: High pressure, currently keeping the system on a westward path, might weaken enough to allow that right hand turn – as was the case with Katia.
Because that is a long-range forecast, it could contain large errors.
Nate, meanwhile, emerged in the southern Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday afternoon.
At 11 p.m., it was 135 miles west of Campeche, Mexico, moving slowly east at 2 mph, with sustained winds of 45 mph. Little forward motion is expected Wednesday night and into Thursday but it is forecast to intensify into a category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 85 mph over the next five days.
Although Nate has been almost stationary for several hours, forecasters expect it to eventually aim northwest generally toward the Texas-Mexico border. A tropical storm warning has been posted for a portion of the northeastern Mexican coast.
With Maria and Nate, the 13th and 14th named storms, respectively, the 2011 season is on pace to be one of the busiest on record. Some experts predict 25 or more named storms could develop, as the peak of the season, Sept. 10, still is three days away.
If more than 21 storms form, the Greek alphabet will be needed; it has only been used once before, in 2005, when 28 storms emerged. The average season sees 11 named storms, including six hurricanes.
Katia is expected to continue weakening as moves into cooler waters. It also is expected to pass between the U.S. east coast and Bermuda on Wednesday night and Thursday.
At 8 p.m. Wednesday, Katia was in the Atlantic about 335 miles southwest of Bermuda, lumbering northwest at 10 mph with sustained winds of 80 mph, or category 1 status.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times