Tropical Storm Arlene forms in Gulf of Mexico, becomes first named storm of season

Tropical Storm Arlene formed in the Gulf of Mexico Friday afternoon – about 200 miles west of Florida -- becoming the first named storm of the season, according to the National Hurricane Center. 

During the last leg of their mission, U.S. Air Force Hurricane Hunters investigating the system discovered the former tropical depression had winds of at least 40 mph, officially meeting the criteria to designate it as a tropical storm. A tropical storm is a tropical cyclone that has maximum sustained surface winds ranging from 39-73 mph. 

"Although the storm has strengthened slightly, we still expect Arlene to weaken soon due to increasing wind shear and dry air, and no change has been made to the forecast," the NHC said in its advisory. The system is expected to become a remnant low by Saturday, the NHC said.

Tropical Storm Arlene tracker: Follow the storm's movements

Where is Tropical Storm Arlene? 

Tropical Storm Arlene is currently located in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, around 265 miles west of Fort Myers, Florida.

It has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and is moving toward the south at 5 mph, the NHC said.

What are Tropical Storm Arlene's potential impacts to Florida?

Tropical Storm Arlene's track is expected to keep the storm offshore with no direct U.S. impacts. But with its proximity to Florida, Arlene will continue to enhance a flash flood threat for parts of the state by adding additional moisture to ongoing showers and thunderstorms. 

"It’s going to be close enough to add a lot of tropical moisture (to Florida)," said FOX Weather Meteorologist Britta Merwin. "And tropical moisture leads to one thing, and that’s a lot of rain."

Flood Watches that will remain through at least Friday afternoon are in effect for several areas of South Florida. Forecast rainfall totals are around 1-4 inches in southern Florida, with isolated aras reaching as much as 5 inches.

What is the forecast for Tropical Storm Arlene?

Tropical Storm Arlene is not expected to strengthen into a hurricane

"The NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown passed very near the center earlier, showing a distinct wind shift with west-southwest winds just south of the center. An Air Force Reserve Reconnaissance aircraft has been investigating the system this afternoon," the NHC said Thursday evening. 

The National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Arlene will continue spinning in the Gulf before eventually dying out.

"By this weekend, environmental conditions are forecast to become unfavorable for additional development as the system continues moving southward, likely remaining offshore over the Gulf of Mexico," the NHC said Thursday afternoon.

FOX Weather contributed to this report.