Hurricane season is once again ignoring the calendar. Two tropical cyclones are on the verge of forming in May — one in the north Atlantic, the other in the western Gulf of Mexico — days before the start of hurricane season.
If a named storm forms this month, it would be the seventh year in a row that’s happened before the Atlantic storm season officially begins on June 1.
The first named storm of 2021 will be designated Ana, and the leading candidate is the low-pressure system located about 250 miles northeast of Bermuda. It has a 90 percent chance of becoming a subtropical storm over the next two days, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 8 p.m. Friday advisory.
It was “gradually acquiring subtropical characteristics” late Friday, according to the forecast, and “producing gale-force winds.”
But that storm is far from land and is expected to run into hostile weather conditions expected to keep it from strengthening as it moves northeast this weekend. Bermuda is under a tropical storm watch and will likely see some rain. But if Subtropical Storm Ana forms, it’s expected to dissipate within days.
Bill is the second storm name of the season and that’s what Texas and Louisiana residents may soon be calling the are of low pressure located over the western Gulf about 150 miles east-southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas. It is generating winds of up to 35 mph and has a 50 percent chance of strengthening in the next two days (a slight drop from earlier in the day.)
Conditions don’t favor the storm strengthening, according to the hurricane center forecast, but it could still become a tropical depression if there’s an increased in thunderstorm activity. It is expected to move over the Texas coast overnight and bring heavy rains to southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana.
But it doesn’t need to get stronger to pose a threat to those states. Both coasts are already experiencing ground saturation and river flooding. The tropical system could release heavy rains that would raise the risks of flash flooding and urban flooding, according to the hurricane center, and worsen the river flooding situation.
Hurricane forecasters are again predicting an active storm season. This week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its first seasonal forecast, which calls for an above-normal year with 13 to 20 named storms, 6 to 10 hurricanes and 3 to 5 major hurricanes.
That aligns with another leading forecast, issued by Colorado State University, that predicts 17 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes in 2021.
And don’t forget that Florida’s disaster preparedness sales tax holiday starts next week on May 28 and runs through June 6. For a list of tax-exempt hurricane supplies, check out floridarevenue.com/disasterprep/.
• • •
Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane
PREPARE FOR COVID-19 AND THE STORM: The CDC's tips for this pandemic-hurricane season
PREPARE YOUR STUFF: Get your documents and your data ready for a storm
PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job
NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter