Track of Tropical Storm Arlene Friday afternoon

A disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico was upgraded to Tropical Storm Arlene on Friday -- the first named storm of the brand new hurricane season.

Arlene is forecast to reach the coast of Cuba by Saturday evening.

The system reached wind speeds of 40 mph Friday, which exceeded the 39 mph threshold for tropical storms, the National Hurricane Center reported. To become a hurricane, it would have to reach wind speeds of 74 mph.

The system first formed Tuesday southeast of Louisiana as a disorganized cluster of thunderstorms. As it traveled eastward towards the Florida panhandle, it slowed and gained power. Thursday afternoon, it made a turn to the south and became a tropical depression.

NHC meteorologists wrote in a weather update that the tropical storm should lose strength Saturday and likely dissipate by Sunday morning.

Hurricane season began Thursday and ends November 30.

In its May forecast for the season, NHC meteorologists predicted there could be up to 17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes and one to four major hurricanes of category three or higher. The forecast took into consideration that El Niño conditions will likely come back late this summer.

The El Niño-Southern Oscillation is a weather condition that changes the Pacific Ocean's temperature. During El Niño, this results in more wind shear over the Atlantic Ocean, which makes it harder for tropical storms to develop.

The next tropical storm will be named Bret, followed by Cindy, Don and Emily. Here's the full list of 2023 tropical storm names.

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This work is supported with a grant funded by the Walton Family Foundation and administered by the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Roshaun Higgins:; on Twitter: @row_yr_boat.