Tropical storm Victor forms in eastern Atlantic

Tropical Storm Victor over the Atlantic Ocean on Sept 29, 2021. PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Tropical Storm Victor formed Wednesday (Sept 29) in the eastern Atlantic, becoming the 20th named storm of the busy 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.

In an update Wednesday afternoon, the National Hurricane Centre said Victor was about 540 miles (870km) south of the Cabo Verde Islands, with maximum sustained winds of 40mph (64kmh).

The storm was moving west-northwest at 13mph and was expected to continue moving in that direction over the next couple of days, the centre 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 centre.

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 Organisation 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," Mr Kenneth Graham, 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 vapour 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 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 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 Nov 30. Victor is the 20th named storm to form this year.

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