At 03Z this morning (11pm EDT last night), NHC upgraded the strong tropical wave in the central Atlantic to TD6. Then at 21Z today, it was upgraded to Tropical Storm Frances, based on an improving satellite presentation (CDO and banding). It presently is located at 11.6N 40.5W and tracking W at 15kts. Intensity is estimated to be 35kts and 1005mb. Frances is forecast to slow down, and gradually strengthen too. Models indicate that it will begin to move NW as a weakness in the subtropical ridge develops. Then by early next week, the ridge should rebuild and the track would turn more westerly again. This sort of stair-step pattern is similar to what Andrew '92, Floyd '99, and Isabel '03 did. However, east coast residents don't need to start hanging storm shutters just yet... it's well over a week until that would be an issue, if at all. The large wave over western Africa that looked impressive yesterday is not looking as robust now. It's at about 12N 28W.
Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.