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First storm of hurricane season now has a 90 percent chance of formation

Tropical Storm Ana could be officially named as early as Friday if it reaches sustained winds of at least 39 mph.
A system in the northern Atlantic is expected to become Tropical Storm Ana by as early as Friday.
A system in the northern Atlantic is expected to become Tropical Storm Ana by as early as Friday. [ National Hurricane Center ]
Published May 20
Updated May 21

The formation of Tropical Storm Ana and the start of the 2021 hurricane season are now imminent.

The National Hurricane Center said on Thursday that a system in the Atlantic, northeast of Bermuda, had a 90 percent chance of becoming the first named storm of the season within the next five days. It was given just a 40 percent chance Wednesday afternoon.

In order to become Ana, the system would require sustained winds of at least 39 mph. Government forecasters project the system’s winds could reach that by as early as Friday.

The system was expected to develop gale-force winds later Thursday 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.

With its northern track, Ana poses little threat to Florida. Instead, the system is a warning of what’s expected to come in 2021 — a hurricane season that’s more active than usual.

Though it’s expected to be a far cry from the record 30 named storms that formed last year, 2021 is expected to see 17 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes according to projections from Colorado State University.

There is a 45 percent chance a major hurricane will strike Florida or the East Coast this year, and a 44 percent chance of landfall anywhere from the Florida Panhandle to Texas along the Gulf Coast, Colorado State scientists said.

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.

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2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane

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