Tropical Storm Fiona forms in the Atlantic, hurricane season predicted to pick up steam

The sixth named tropical storm of the season formed late Wednesday afternoon in the eastern Atlantic, signaling the hurricane season is picking up steam in August just as experts predicted.

Earlier this month, NOAA released a report calling for an above-average hurricane season with a 70 percent chance of 12 to 17 named storms. Meteorologists at NOAA predicted that five to eight of the name storms are expected to become hurricanes.

According to NOAA, the season is expected to be the most active since 2012.

"We've raised the numbers because some conditions now in place are indicative of a more active hurricane season, such as El Niño ending, weaker vertical wind shear and weaker trade winds over the central tropical Atlantic, and a stronger west African monsoon," said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Tropical Storm Fiona is moving toward the central Atlantic and should not hit any major land masses, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is moving at 16 MPH west-northwest. Hurricane Earl, which struck Belize in July, was the last named storm of the season.

Experts are also keeping their eye on another well-organized disturbance moving over Africa that could form into a threatening storm later this week.

"The next disturbance will push off the African continent on Saturday or Sunday and may become a tropical system very soon after it emerges over the Atlantic," AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said.

A train of disturbances traveling from Africa to Central America has been ongoing for the past several weeks.

The second half of August typically brings a strong uptick in development of systems originating near Cabo Verde, which tend to be the strongest systems in the Atlantic, according to Accuweather.

Mandy Matney: 843-706-8147, @MandyMatney