The first December storm in 10 years forms in the Atlantic

A subtropical storm? In December? The first in nearly 10 years? And its name could be Owen?

Yes, even though peak hurricane season might be over, there is a rare subtropical storm slowly forming in the Atlantic Ocean this week — the first in almost a decade.

The National Hurricane Center issued a special tropical weather outlook Monday as a low-pressure system continued “producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms” across the central Atlantic Ocean.

Where is the storm now?

As of Wednesday morning, the system was located about 900 miles northeast of the northern Leeward Islands of the Caribbean.

Will it become a hurricane or tropical storm?

“This activity has become somewhat better organized this morning, though frontal features remain attached to the low,” the hurricane center said. “Environmental conditions appear marginally conducive for development and a subtropical or tropical storm could form within the next day or so.”

Forecasters say after the storm develops, it’s likely to move northeast and dissipate. Meteorologists across the board believe the storm is unlikely to reach hurricane-level strength, though it could become either a subtropical or tropical storm.

SUBTROPICAL STORM DEFINED?: How is it different from a tropical or extratropical system?

What is a subtropical storm?

A subtropical storm “typically has a large, cloud-free center of circulation, with very heavy thunderstorm activity in a band removed at least 100 miles from the center,” that could also bring strong winds, according to the National Weather Service.

By contrast, a tropical storm is a low-pressure area with heavy rains and with wind speeds sustained winds from 39 to 73 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. When a storm reaches this strength, it’s assigned a name.

Meaning, this storm brewing in the Atlantic has some work to do if it wants to be named Owen.

“This tropical system is expected to be large, spanning hundreds of miles. As a result, wind and rough seas can extend well away from the center of the storm,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Adam Douty.

So, there’s a chance it could intensify?

“There’s a 50-50 chance,” said John Cangialosi, acting branch chief of the hurricane specialist unit at the National Hurricane Center. “The best window is between Wednesday and Thursday.”

If or when the storm does strengthen, “it will be very short-lived,” Cangialosi added.

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