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Early tropical storm churns in Pacific

Tropical Storm Adrian is slowly approaching El Salvador and Guatemala.

BY HEATHER MOYER | BALTIMORE | May 19, 2005

Tropical Storm Adrian was churning in the Pacific Ocean Thursday morning, moving very slowly toward the coast of El Salvador and Guatemala.

The Pacific hurricane season started May 15, and Adrian became a tropical storm late Tuesday night. The stormís maximum sustained winds are near 55 miles per hour, but forecast discussion from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicts a gradual strengthening into a possible hurricane before Adrian makes landfall late Thursday night or early Friday.

The slow-moving storm is expected to bring torrential downpours to parts of Central America. From the NHC forecast, "It should be emphasized that the biggest threat from Adrian is heavy rain...which will likely produce flash flooding and potentially devastating mud slides over the highly mountainous terrain of Central America."

A tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch are in effect for El Salvador. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Guatemala and Honduras.

Despite the storm's early-in-the-season start date, its direction also makes it unusual.

"It is somewhat unusual that the storm is going northeast rather than west or west-northwest," said Frank Lepore, spokesperson for the National Hurricane Center.

NHC forecast discussion also predicts that while the storm will weaken as it crosses over Central America, the system will move into the Caribbean Sea. NHC forecasters expect Adrian to dissipate over Central America's high mountains.

According to Lepore, if the storm completely regenerates once it moves into the Caribbean Sea, it will be given the name Arlene -- the first name on the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season List.

"The tip-off will be whether (the NHC) continues writing advisories on it," he explained, noting that if the storm keeps enough of its original cyclonic movement, it will also keep its Pacific name. "If that happens, then itís an unusual case."

Lepore said researchers would have to dig deeply into the climatological records to discover the last time a crossover from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean happened.

Yet pre-season and post-season Atlantic Ocean tropical storms and hurricanes are not all that unusual. "In the Atlantic basin there have been hurricanes in every month except January, February and April," he said. "It's not unprecedented to have one in May."


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