Though the remnants of Tropical Storm Emily likely will not pose a threat to the Southeast coast this weekend, national weather forecasters warn coastal residents not to become complacent about future storms.
As the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola and eastern Cuba caused Emily to dissipate Thursday, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami raised the chance of an "active" Atlantic hurricane season to 85 percent, up from 65 percent in May.
Forecasters now say there could be 14 to 19 named storms or hurricanes, up from the 12 to 18 they predicted in late May just before hurricane season began. Three to five of those storms will grow to Category 3 or stronger, forecasters said.
"The atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean are primed for high hurricane activity during August through October," said Gerry Bell, lead hurricane forecaster for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Storms through October will form more frequently and become more intense than we've seen so far this season."
Bell attributed the increase to several factors, including a cycle of ocean and atmospheric conditions that has churned up storms since 1995, the third-warmest Atlantic Ocean temperatures on record and the possible redevelopment of La Niña, a weather pattern that tends to help hurricanes form by reducing the wind shear that can weaken or shred developing systems.
Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean began June 1 and ends Nov. 30.
Tropical Storm Emily was the fifth named storm of 2011, but it quickly fizzled Thursday, prompting the National Hurricane Center to cancel all Emily-related watches and warnings in the U.S.
Jonathan Lamb, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Charleston, said the storm has a chance of regaining strength but won't threaten South Carolina's coastline.
"There is some chance it could redevelop once it moves north of Cuba, but it's going to remain well off the coast," Lamb said. "It could still produce some enhanced waves Saturday night, but it's still going to be more than 250 miles offshore."
Emily also will not produce rain or wind needed to offer some relief from the stifling heat that enveloped Beaufort County this week and is expected to last through the end of next week, Lamb said.
The Miami Herald contributed to this report.
Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/ProtectServeBft.