Tropical Storm Victor Forms in Eastern Atlantic

Tropical Storm Victor formed on Wednesday in the eastern Atlantic, becoming the 20th named storm of the busy 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.

In an update on Wednesday night, the National Hurricane Center said Victor was about 555 miles south-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands, with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour.

The storm was moving west-northwest at about 13 m.p.h., and was expected to continue moving in that direction and strengthen into a hurricane over the next couple of days, the center said.

There were no watches or warnings in effect, and the storm was not expected to affect land over the next few days, according to the center.

After Victor, there is only one name, Wanda, left on this year’s primary list of 21 storm names. If more storms form, the National Weather Service will move on to a list of supplemental names, only the third time in history that it has had to do that. The first was in 2005.

Last year’s record season saw 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, forcing meteorologists to move to use Greek letters to identify the final nine storms.

But in March, citing confusion among the general public, the World Meteorological Organization said it would no longer use the Greek alphabet to label storms and would instead rely on a supplemental list of 21 names, beginning with Adria, Braylen and Caridad, and ending with Viviana and Will.

“Zeta, Eta, Theta — if you think about even me saying those — to have those storms at the same time was tough,” Kenneth Graham, the director of the National Hurricane Center, said earlier this year. “People were mixing the storms up.”

Like the main list of storm names, the supplemental list does not include names that begin with the letters Q, U, X, Y or Z, which officials said are not common enough or easily understood across English, Spanish, French and Portuguese, the languages frequently spoken throughout North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

It has been a dizzying couple of months for meteorologists as the arrival of peak hurricane season — August through November — led to a run of named storms that formed in quick succession, bringing stormy weather, flooding and damaging winds to parts of the United States and the Caribbean.

The formation of Tropical Storm Victor came as Hurricane Sam, which formed last week, continued its slow march across the Atlantic.

The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming more apparent. A warming planet can expect stronger hurricanes over time, and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms — though the overall number of storms could drop, because factors like stronger wind shear could keep weaker storms from forming.

Hurricanes are also becoming wetter because of more water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than they would have without the human effects on climate. Also, rising sea levels are contributing to higher storm surge — the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.

Ana became the first named storm of the season on May 23, making this the seventh year in a row that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season on June 1.

In May, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that there would be 13 to 20 named storms this year, six to 10 of which would be hurricanes, including three to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher in the Atlantic.

NOAA updated its forecast in early August, predicting 15 to 21 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes, by the end of the season on Nov. 30. Victor is the 20th named storm to form this year.

Jesus Jiménez contributed reporting.

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