Tropical Storm Wanda Moves Across the Atlantic

Tropical Storm Wanda, the 21st named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, was moving across the open ocean early Tuesday and was not expected to pose a danger to land, forecasters said.

As of 5 a.m. Eastern time, Wanda was about 800 miles west of the Azores, a set of islands about 900 miles west of Portugal. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour, with higher gusts, according to the National Hurricane Center, and there were no coastal watches or warning in effect.

Wanda, the first named storm since Hurricane Sam in early October, was expected to move northeast through Wednesday before weakening.

With the formation of Wanda over the weekend, meteorologists exhausted the list of names used to identify storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, the second time in two years that that has happened.

If more storms form, the National Weather Service will use a list of supplemental names, only the third time it has had to do that. The first was in 2005.

There were a record-breaking 30 named storms last year, including six major hurricanes, forcing meteorologists 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 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 were not common enough or easily understood across English, Spanish, French and Portuguese, the languages frequently spoken throughout North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

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. But 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 22, 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. With Wanda, there have been 21 named storms so far, and seven of them became hurricanes.

Eduardo Medina, Derrick Bryson Taylor and Neil Vigdor contributed reporting.

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