Tropical depression may become first Atlantic hurricane of season over Fourth of July weekend

As the United States prepares to celebrate the Fourth of July, the weather is preparing to supply the fireworks in the form of the first named Atlantic hurricane of the season.

Tropical Storm Arthur, carrying winds of 40 mph, was about 95 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Tuesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is expected to approach hurricane force, 74 mph, the lowest-level, or  Category 1, hurricane.

Forecasters for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have already predicted a slow storm season for this year, caused by an El Niño weather pattern warming the Pacific Ocean. Forecasters said they expect eight to 13 tropical storms. Three to six could become hurricanes, but no more than two are predicted to become major storms. No hurricanes have struck Florida in eight years.

Arthur is expected to miss Florida, staying offshore, though rains are expected, according to the Hurricane Center.

A tropical storm watch is already in place for part of the Atlantic coast of Florida, the center noted.

“A northwest motion is expected to begin later today,” according to the forecast, 'followed by a turn toward the north on Wednesday. ... The center of the tropical cyclone is expected to remain just offshore and move east of the east-central coast of Florida during the next day or so. The system is forecast to pass east of northeastern Florida on Wednesday and Wednesday night.”

It’s too soon to know where the storm will hit as it moves its way up the Eastern Seaboard, but it could have an impact on holiday plans from the mid-Atlantic states to Cape Cod, according to forecasts.

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