It begins: First tropical depression of the season forms off Africa

April 19, 2017 GMT

The very first tropical system of 2017 formed Wednesday morning off the coast of Africa.

It’s technically Subtropical Depression One, that means it has characteristics of a tropical system and a regular low.

By 5 p.m. Wednesday, the system was moving north at 12 mph and had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. It was 2,200 miles from Raleigh.

This system is likely to be absorbed into another low Thursday without having any impact on land, but it is a good reminder for us to be prepared for the coming hurricane season.

Researchers at North Carolina State University, in their annual hurricane outlook predicted 11 to 15 tropical storms and hurricanes will form this year in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The 1950 to 2014 average for named storms is 11.


Four to six of those named storms may grow strong enough to become hurricanes, with the possibility of one to three becoming major hurricanes, Lian Xie, professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences, said.