Franklin becomes 1st Atlantic hurricane as it aims at Mexico

Franklin becomes 1st Atlantic hurricane as it aims at Mexico

Hurricane Franklin might be the first of the season in the Atlantic, but it is not expected to be the last by a long shot. This would be the most storm activity since 2010, NOAA said. An average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1-November 30, produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Franklin had slipped to tropical storm force Thursday morning with maximum sustained winds near 60 miles per hour (95 kph).

These six make up 'half the number of storms during an average six-month season and double the number of storms that would typically form by early August, ' said the USA government agency in a statement. There is now almost unanimous consensus between governmental, private, and scholarly prognosticators that the current season's activity will end up above average. Historically, the peak comes between August and October.

The waters are 'much warmer than average, about one to two degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average, and there is high confidence that this warmth will persist, ' said Gerry Bell, NOAA's lead hurricane season forecaster, during a conference call with reporters.

The low pressure area off the coast of Florida is now moving north and is given a slight, 10 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone over the next five days. "This is, in part, because the chance of El Niño forming, which tends to prevent storms from strengthening, has dropped significantly from May".

A second system off the coast of central Florida is more likely to be held in check by strong wind shear, forecasters said.

ACE value is a useful tool for assessing the potential for surf to be generated from tropical systems - ACE is determined by the intensity and longevity of a storm, both vital factors for swell production.

Hurricanes in the Atlantic are named based on a list that rotates every six years.

El Nino is an ocean warming trend that typically reduces hurricanes in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea but boosts storms in the eastern Pacific.

Franklin weakened to a tropical storm after it made landfall in eastern Mexico early Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.