Tropical Storm Arlene, the first named storm of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, is churning up some Gulf of Mexico waves with its 55-mile-per-hour winds, but it is not expected to impact this weekend's Gulf cruise departures.
Forecasters from the National Hurricane Center have said that the storm, currently located about 50 miles north of the western end of Cuba and headed toward Louisiana, will not likely reach hurricane speed (winds 74 m.p.h. and above).
However, folks visiting ports today in Central America, Grand Cayman and South Florida may experience torrential rain storms -- and some itineraries may be changed to avoid the storm. Indeed, Carnival is the first to report in with minor changes: Both Carnival Conquest and Carnival Victory are bypassing Grand Cayman today, and will spend the day at sea.
Arlene's appearance is rather early in the season, anticipated by NHC weather masters to be an active one (check out our pre-season 2005 predictions for the Atlantic and Pacific coasts). Last year, Alex, the first named Atlantic storm, didn't strike until early August.
We'll watch Arlene closely, and keep you posted throughout the weekend should conditions change.