Tropical Storm Gonzalo formed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is the latest sign of a busy hurricane season.
Gonzalo is the earliest named seventh tropical storm of the Atlantic storm season. The previous record was set by tropical Storm Gert, which formed on July 24, 2005.
The average date of an Atlantic season’s seventh named storm is Sept. 16.
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was, by nearly all preseason projections, going to be an active one. Nearly two months in, however, it is breaking records with nearly every storm — including Wednesday.
Gonzalo wasn’t alone in coming early. Named storms Cristobal, Danielle, Edouard and Fay also set records for being the earliest named storms this year. They all formed after Arthur (May 16) and Bertha (May 27) gained tropical storm strength before hurricane season officially began on June 1.
Storm formation in the eastern and central tropical Atlantic regions before August is often a sign of an active hurricane season, said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Philip Klotzbach.
Gonzalo formed in the central Atlantic early Wednesday morning, where it was about 1,250 miles east of the Southern Windward Islands.
The tropical storm had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and was moving west-northwest at 12 mph as of 2 p.m. Wednesday, according to an advisory from the hurricane center. It is expected to reach hurricane strength on Thursday and its projected path could take the storm into the lower Caribbean Sea by this weekend.
While Gonzalo remains thousands of miles away from Florida, there is another system in the Gulf of Mexico that could develop into another named storm in the coming days. The hurricane center on Wednesday raised the probability of the system, which is circling just west of Florida, of forming within the next five days to 80 percent.
The system off Florida’s coast has brought higher rain chances and breezy conditions to the state this week. Meteorologists predict the system could make landfall in Texas by the weekend. If the system forms, it would be named Hanna.
The current record for an “H” storm in the Atlantic came on Aug. 3, 2005, when Tropical Storm Harvey formed.
Colorado State University’s updated seasonal forecast that published earlier this month, led by Klotzbach, called for 20 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes this season, significantly up from the averages of 12, six and three.