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Ana and Bill on the way? Scientists eye first two systems of hurricane season

Yes, you read that right. Two systems already have a chance to become the first two named storms of the 2021 season.
Scientists are monitoring two tropical systems that could become the first named storms of the 2021 season.
Scientists are monitoring two tropical systems that could become the first named storms of the 2021 season. [ National Hurricane Center ]
Published May 21
Updated May 21

Roughly two weeks ahead of the official start date of hurricane season, scientists with the National Hurricane Center are already watching two systems that could become named storms.

One system, to the northeast of Bermuda, is expected to become Tropical Storm Ana by the end of Friday. Federal scientists gave it a 90 percent chance of formation as of Thursday night.

The system was expected to develop gale-force winds while it moves generally northward. Forecasters project Ana will form on Friday or Saturday, becoming a short-lived subtropical cyclone that could dissipate by Sunday after it enters an area of the Atlantic with cooler waters.

The other system, in the Gulf of Mexico south of Texas, has a 40 percent chance of formation as of Friday morning. It would become Tropical Storm Bill if its winds reach at least 39 mph.

The system was a disorganized cluster of cloudiness and thunderstorms. It is expected to gain strength as it heads north toward Texas and Louisiana, bringing heavy rain and thunderstorms there this weekend.

Neither system poses an imminent threat to Florida. But they are a sign of what’s to come this storm season, as scientists predict the Atlantic is in for yet another active season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its annual forecast Thursday. There, it called for an above-normal storm season with 13 to 20 named storms and 6 to 10 hurricanes.

An average hurricane season has 12 to 14 named storms. That makes this year’s forecast more active than usual, but it doesn’t call for a repeat of the record-breaking 30 named storms that formed last year.

The official start date of hurricane season is June 1. Storms forming ahead of that date have become the norm in recent years, however, with at least one May storm forming in each of the past three years.

Related: NOAA is latest to forecast an active hurricane season in 2021