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Season’s first tropical storm forms in the Atlantic

The first tropical storm of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season has formed off the East Coast of the United States, just days ahead of the official start of hurricane season.

As of early Friday, Tropical Depression One was located about 260 miles southeast of Nantucket, Mass., and 420 miles south-southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The depression, with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph, is not expected to threaten land. It is not expected to gain strength in the next 24 hours, forecasters said.

Forecasters are predicting a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season, which officially begins Monday. They say there is a 70 percent chance of having nine to 14 named storms, of which four to seven could become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes.

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