Forecasters are keeping watch for the potential of an early start to the 2015 hurricane season.


Forecasters are keeping watch for the potential of an early start to the 2015 hurricane season.



A coastal storm is forming off the Southeast coast and it could become a subtropical or tropical cyclone, according to the National Hurricane Center.



Even if the system doesn’t become tropical, forecasters expect the storm to move up along the Southeast coast, bringing increased chances of rain starting today. The National Weather Service in Newport calls for a 40 percent chance of showers Thursday, 50 percent on Friday, 40 percent on Saturday and 30 percent on Sunday. Forecasters say the predicted path of the storm is not certain and that rain chances could increase or decrease depending on the path. The strength of the storm also remains uncertain, but increased winds and rough surf along the coast is likely.



“We are monitoring and watching,” said Bel Melandez, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Newport.



The official start of hurricane season is June 1, but tropical systems have formed before that date, the last time being in 2012 when two tropical storms formed in May.



Forecast models show an area of low pressure developing into a depression or storm by Thursday or Friday and tracking slowly northward and skirting the coast of the Carolinas. As of Wednesday morning, the hurricane center put the chances of tropical system development at 60 percent.



While the tropical season may be getting an early start, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will also be an active season.



Forecasts for the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane season indicate a relatively quiet one.



Forecasts from researchers at N.C. State University as well as Colorado State University were released last month and each indicated the season should be less active than averages from 1950 to the present.



The N.C. State forecast indicated the 2015 season should see four to six named storms forming in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Of those named storms, one to three may grow into hurricanes and one may become a major hurricane.



The Colorado State University forecasts seven named storms, three hurricanes and one major hurricane.



Jannette Pippin is a reporter for the Jacksonville Daily News.