Hurricane season is starting early once again

May 21, 2021, 4:27 PM UTC

The first named Atlantic storm of 2021 should arrive this weekend, another early kickoff to hurricane season.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the storm, which is currently in the mid-Atlantic centered about 450 miles east-northeast of Bermuda, has a 90% chance of developing into a cyclone within the next 48 hours. If so, it will be named “Ana.”

Officials say the storm could become a tropical event later today or tonight as it continues to move westward. It’s not expected to pose any threat to the United States or Caribbean.

Meanwhile, a storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico currently has a 40% chance of developing into a named storm in the coming days (and would be called “Bill” if it does so). The NHC says if it does, it’s expected to be “a short-lived tropical depression or storm” that “could produce heavy rainfall over portions of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana.”

Officially, hurricane season doesn’t begin until June 1, but Mother Nature has never really paid too much attention to the calendar, especially in recent years (the past seven, in fact).

An early start to hurricane season isn’t necessarily worrisome, since early tropical events tend to be less powerful than those in late summer, but they do underscore the threat of hurricanes along the Eastern seaboard.

In 2019, hurricanes caused $136 billion in damages. Last year was, surprisingly, a relatively sedate season, with over $51 billion in damages. A major hurricane (or more) could be especially costly this year, though, given the record prices for lumber and the ongoing real estate crunch. Repairs could take longer and will be much more expensive for homeowners and insurance companies.

And experts say the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is going to be more active than usual, according to an outlook released Thursday by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

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