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Tropical Storm Josephine headed to the open Atlantic, away from Florida

The storm is forecast to strengthen on Friday but will be far from land. It should start dissipating as soon as Monday.

Tropical Storm Josephine formed Thursday but its path and fate did not change.

The storm is expected to slightly strengthen over the weekend before traveling into the open Atlantic Ocean and far away from Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center, where it will pose no threat to land.

Josephine was generating 45 mph sustained winds and was headed west at 16 mph, according to the center’s 5 p.m. Thursday advisory. The storm was 865 miles east-southeast of the northern Leeward Islands.

“It’s still struggling,” said Spectrum Bay News 9 Meteorologist Mike Clay. “It’s going to get a lot of wind shear that will weaken it back into a depression or tropical wave. We’re not too worried about this system.”

The hurricane center said it expects Josephine, which is the 10th named storm of this season, to slightly strengthen on Friday with winds up to 60 mph before weakening back into a tropical depression as soon as Monday. The storm is not expected to pose a threat to the U.S. or islands in the Caribbean Sea.

The projected path of Tropical Storm Josephine as of 5 p.m. Thursday. [ National Hurricane Center ]

Still, the center asks those in the Caribbean to keep a close eye on the system, just in case.

“On the forecast track, Josephine should pass far enough to the northeast of the Leeward Islands to prevent major impacts. However, interests in the area should continue to monitor its progress until the storm has gone by,” the center said in its advisory.

While the tropical storm poses no threat to land, it is the earliest “J” storm to form in recorded Atlantic history. Tropical Storm Jose set the previous record when it became a named storm on Aug. 22, 2005.

Josephine serves as another reminder that forecasters believe warm Atlantic waters and weak wind shear could produce one of the most active hurricane seasons on record.

Tampa Bay will see rain on Friday, even though Josephine will be far away. Spectrum Bay News 9 says there will be a 50 percent chance of rain and a high of 92.

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