Year's first named storm forms, three weeks before hurricane season

MIAMI (AP) - Subtropical Storm Andrea formed off the southeastern US coast today Wednesday, more than three weeks before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

The year's first named storm has top sustained winds near 45-miles-an-hour. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the storm is centered about 140 miles southeast of Savannah, Georgia, and about 150 miles northeast of Daytona Beach, Florida.

Richard Pasch is a senior hurricane specialist at the center. He calls the storm, "kind of a half-breed" and says forecasters are NOW viewing the storm as a major threat.

Subtropical systems are hybrid weather formations that are usually weaker than hurricanes and tropical storms. They share characteristics of tropical systems, which get their power from warm ocean waters at their centers, and more typical bad weather that forms when warm and cold fronts collide.

Private and university forecasters have predicted that the 2007 season that starts June first and ends November 30th will be especially active. They predict the season will produce up to 17 tropical storms and hurricanes and a "well above average" possibility of at least one striking the United States.

The federal government plans to release its predictions May 22nd.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)