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Warming Atlantic Delivers Three Tropical Cyclones, First Hurricane of the Season

Tropical Storm Bill is predicted to become a major hurricane between 48 and 60 hours, as it moves to the northwest from a position east of the Lesser Antilles.

Three tropical cyclones are currently active in the Atlantic ocean, reflecting conditions increasingly favorable to developing storms according to an Risk Management Solutions (RMS; Newark, Calif.) press release. Tropical Storm Bill, currently east of the Lesser Antilles, has become the first hurricane of the season, according to the NOAA.

"Sea surface temperatures in the 'Main Development Region' between Africa and the Caribbean Sea are above 27C, while in the Gulf of Mexico they are up to 1.5C above average at around 30C, which is plenty warm enough to sustain tropical cyclone development," says Neenah Saith, senior catastrophe response manager, RMS. Wind shear, which inhibits hurricane formation, is also very light in the Gulf of Mexico and a large portion of the Main Development Region, although we could see this increase over the Atlantic in the next couple of days."

Bill has continued to strengthen in the last 24 hours, RMS reports. Currently to the east of the Lesser Antilles with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 km/hr), forecasts suggest that Bill will take a turn to the northwest within 72 hours and then a more northerly track within 96 hours, meaning it is likely to veer away from the U.S. and remain over the open waters of the Atlantic. Warming sea surface temperatures and reducing wind shear are expected to cause Bill to steadily intensify, with most forecasts predicting it will become a major hurricane in between 48 and 60 hours. However, as it progresses further along it's track in around 72 hours, it may encounter cooler waters and weaken.

Tropical storm Claudette made landfall near the eastern end of Santa Rosa Island, just southeast of Fort Walton Beach, Florida this morning with maximum sustained winds of around 50 mph (80 km/hr), the RMS source says. Claudette is tracking towards the northwest and this general motion is expected to continue over the next 24 hours, crossing the Florida Panhandle, southwest Alabama and eastern Mississippi, although forecast models suggest it will reduce to a tropical depression within the next 12 hours. The main impact from Claudette is likely to be from associated rainfall, which is already affecting Tallahassee. The National Hurricane Center are warning of between 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 cm) of rainfall with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches (25 cm) across the Florida Panhandle, the big bend region of Florida, central and southern Alabama and extreme southwestern Ge! orgia. A Flash Flood Watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for all of northwest Florida and portions of South Central Alabama. A flash flood watch means that rapid flooding of streams, creeks and other drainage areas will be possible within the watch area. Claudette developed from a tropical depression that formed close to the Florida coast on Sunday, 16 August. It was declared the third named storm of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season.

Tropical storm Ana has reduced in strength in the last 24 hours and as of this morning was classified as a tropical depression, according to the RMS press release. As it continues to move in a west northwesterly direction it is likely to track over the Dominican Republic later on Monday and is unlikely to re-intensify. The most immediate threat from Ana is the rainfall that is forecast to impact the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands in the next 12-24 hours, which could reach up to 6 inches over mountainous terrain.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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