Tropical Storm Ana may not have gotten the memo about Atlantic hurricane season officially starting on June 1.
But there it is, three weeks early, forecast to be "very near" the coasts of South and North Carolina sometime early Sunday.
Ana, which was upgraded from subtropical early Saturday, is forecast to turn to the northeast but stay far offshore of Long Island, according to the National Weather Service.
It's still too early to tell what if any impact its weakening remnants could have as they pass to the southeast, said Tim Morrin, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Upton. But there is potential for an enhancement to the rainfall and thunderstorms already in the forecast for Monday night and Tuesday, he said, especially for Suffolk County.
After delivering winds, rip currents and possibly heavy rain to the Carolinas on Saturday night and Sunday, the first named storm of the season was expected to weaken as it moves up the coast, James Franklin, a unit chief with NOAA's National Hurricane Center, said on a media call Friday.
Such early bird tropical storms may be unusual, but they're "not extraordinarily unusual," he said, pointing to 23 May storms since 1851.
This year's hurricane season is expected to be well below average, according to a Colorado State University outlook released April 9. That was based, in part, on a likely moderate to strong El Nino event, the warming of waters in the tropical Pacific, which can ultimately influence weather worldwide. Historically, El Nino is associated with the formation of fewer tropical storms in the Atlantic.
Also, a new prediction model tailored to forecast the number of tropical cyclones that could hit New York State in a given season indicated below-normal activity for tropical storms and depressions, hurricanes and post-tropical storms.
This year there's a 19 percent probability, with 43 percent being the average, for one or more storms hitting the state, said Hye-Mi Kim, assistant professor in Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, who with two colleagues developed the model.
Over the past 35 years, the number of storms hitting the state has run from zero to two a year, she said.
On May 27 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center weighs in with its outlook for the season.
With The Associated Press