|That patch of clouds in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico|
on Sunday could become Tropical Storm Danielle
This disturbance did indeed strengthen to Tropical Storm Danielle early this morning.
As I noted Sunday, this is the earliest the fourth tropical storm of the year has formed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Danielle remains weak and disorganized. Top sustained winds are 40 mph, making it barely tropical storm strength.
It'll move inland today and then dissipate, causing some flash flooding in parts of Mexico in the process.
There's an area of disturbed weather in the Bay of Campeche, off Mexico's east coast that could become a tropical storm by Monday.
If it does become a tropical storm, it will easily be the earliest on record the fourth tropical storm of the year formed in the Atlantic Basin. If it becomes a tropical storm, they'll name it Danielle.
The would-be tropical storm was an area of showers and thunderstorms in the far western Gulf of Mexico Sunday afternoon.
The storms were slowly becoming more organized, and the National Hurricane Center gave it an 80 percent chance of becoming at least a tropical depression.
A tropical depression is a weak version of a tropical storm, and are not given names. If sustained winds with this thing go up to 39 mph or more, it'll become Tropical Storm Danielle.
Wannabe Danielle doesn't have much time to strengthen before it makes landfall in Mexico Monday. Once it comes ashore, it'll dissipate, but not before dropping heavy rains that could lead to flash floods.
The chances of wannabe Danielle reaching hurricane strength -75 mph winds - is almost nil. This storm will also not affect weather in the United States to any great extent.
Just because the start of the Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season has been very busy doesn't necessarily mean this will be a blockbuster year for such storms.
The National Hurricane Center is predicting an average year for hurricanes and tropical storms. El Nino, which tends to suppress Atlantic tropical storm activity is dead, and probably will be replaced by La Nina.
La Nina is a cool patch of water in the eastern Pacific Ocean that influences weather patterns and can make Atlantic Ocean tropical storms and hurricanes more likely. But again, we're not looking at an extreme year.
Still, it only takes one powerhouse of a hurricane hitting the United States to cause an epic disaster.
We've gone a record number of years without a major hurricane striking the U.S. coast, so we're way overdue.
A major hurricane is one with sustained winds of at least 111 mph.
Plus, it doesn't take a major hurricane to cause epic damage. Superstorm Sandy in 2012 was transitioning into a non-tropical storm, but caused an immense disaster along the East Coast.
In 2011, Hurricane Irene became a tropical storm with winds dropping below 75 mph soon after landfall on the East Coast, but still caused record flooding and lots of deaths in New York and Vermont.
Danielle won't be much of a threat to the United States, but we still need to keep an eye out for dangerous tropical storms and hurricanes, especially as the hurricane season ramps up in August and September.