A weather system in the western Caribbean strengthened into the Atlantic hurricane season’s first named storm on Saturday and strengthened as it headed toward Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Tropical Storm Allison, with wind blowing at 50 mph, brought out storm warnings for the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and the western tip of Cuba. It also kicked up thunderstorms and stiff wind across central and southwestern Florida.
At 5 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. PDT), the storm’s center was 55 miles southeast of Cancun, Mexico. It was moving north at 14 mph.
Winds were expected to strengthen to at least 60 mph in the next three days, said Miles Lawrence, a forecaster at the National Hurricane Center.
“We are not forecasting it to become a hurricane, but that is a possibility,” he said.
A storm is redesignated a hurricane when wind speed reaches 74 mph. Allison strengthened from a tropical depression into a storm when its sustained wind speed exceeded 39 mph.
The storm was expected to brush the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula during the night before entering the southeast Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.
Forecasters warned the storm could dump more than 10 inches of rain and cause some flash flooding across the Yucatan, the nearby Cayman Islands and the western tip of Cuba.
Allison is the first June storm of the 1990s, the center said. Last year’s earliest named storm, Tropical Storm Alberto, didn’t form until July 30.
In all of 1994, there were just seven tropical storms and only three - Chris, Florence and Gordon - became hurricanes.