Hurricane Gonzalo has formed while moving through the northern Leeward Islands Monday afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The system is the sixth hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.
At 5 p.m. Monday, Gonzalo was situated about 20-miles southeast of St. Martin and packing maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, according to a National Hurricane Center bulletin.
“The center of Gonzalo will continue to move through the northern Leeward Islands tonight, be near or just east of the Virgin Islands tonight and early Tuesday, and emerge over the open Atlantic Ocean by Tuesday afternoon,” said Stacy R. Stewart, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, in the bulletin.
By Wednesday, Gonzalo could become a major hurricane when the forecast track places the storm over the open Atlantic Ocean, Stewart added.
Gonzalo is then expected to head north then toward the northeast, remaining far from the US East Coast.
With only seven named storms, the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season is currently below average, as a normal year has nine systems by the middle of October, according to AccuWeather.com.
But in August, a NOAA forecaster warned coastal residents to remain vigiliant.
“Nonetheless, tropical storms and hurricanes can strike the U.S. during below-normal seasons, as we have already seen this year when Arthur made landfall in North Carolina as a category-2 hurricane. We urge everyone to remain prepared and be on alert throughout the season,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service.