Hundreds of miles off the coast of North Carolina, Tropical Storm Bill was upgraded from a tropical depression late Monday night, becoming the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center said.
The weather system was expected to remain away from the coast and was forecast to be “short-lived.”
By early Tuesday morning, Tropical Storm Bill was about 240 miles southeast of Nantucket, Mass., with maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour, the Hurricane Center said.
Later in the morning, the Hurricane Center said Bill was “racing northeastward,” with maximum sustained winds of 60 m.p.h. It was expected to become an “extratropical” storm later on Tuesday, meaning that it was not expected to quickly develop into a hurricane.
A Category 1 hurricane has wind speeds beginning at 74 m.p.h.
While there were no coastal watches or warnings in effect, the storm was moving northeast at 38 miles per hour and was expected to continue on this track through Wednesday with increasing forward speed, the Hurricane Center said.
Some additional strengthening was possible for Tuesday, but the storm was expected to become a post-tropical low and dissipate on Wednesday.
Meteorologists were also watching a weather disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico. It was producing showers and thunderstorms over the Bay of Campeche, just west of the Yucatán Peninsula. That system was expected to move northward and possibly form into a tropical depression by the end of the week, bringing heavy rains to the northern Gulf Coast.
A second disturbance, described as a tropical wave, was reported hundreds of miles south of the Cabo Verde Islands.
In late May, the Atlantic Ocean recorded its first named storm of the hurricane season. Ana, a subtropical storm, developed northeast of Bermuda. It was the seventh year in a row that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season on June 1.
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, and three to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher in the Atlantic.
Last year there were 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, forcing meteorologists to exhaust the alphabet for the second time and move to using Greek letters. It was the highest number of storms on record, surpassing the 28 from 2005, and included the second-highest number of hurricanes on record.
Hurricanes have become increasingly dangerous and destructive with each passing season. Climate change produces more powerful storms with heavier rainfall. The storms also have a tendency to dawdle and meander. A combination of rising seas and slower storms also make for higher and more destructive storm surges.
This hurricane season comes as resources are already stretched thin. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been busy with the migrant crisis along the border with Mexico, and running coronavirus vaccination sites in multiple states, and it is still managing the recovery from a string of record disasters starting with Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Last month, about 4,000 of the agency’s more than 13,000 emergency workers were available to respond to a new disaster, 29 percent fewer than were ready to deploy at the start of last year’s hurricane period.