Hurricane center increases odds for formation of disturbance off east coast

The National Hurricane Center is tracking a system that could form off the U.S. East Coast this week and become a tropical or subtropical depression or storm. National Hurricane Center/TNS

ORLANDO, Fla. — It may be getting cooler, but there are still 36 days left in the Atlantic hurricane season, and experts are watching an area of disturbance that could produce the next named storm of the year.

The National Hurricane Center is monitoring the U.S. East Coast, where late Monday a gale area was located about 100 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., forecast to move north-northeast for the next couple of days and could acquire some subtropical characteristics before it merges with a frontal system.

Meteorologists forecast a 20% chance of the system becoming a tropical depression in the next two days, and 50% chance by the end of the week, but moving eastward or southeastward over the central Atlantic.

If the storm develops maximum sustained winds of 40 mph or more, it will become a tropical or subtropical storm, receiving the name Wanda — it is also the last name on the World Meteorological Organization’s regular-season list. If there is another named storm after Wanda, the WMO will activate its auxiliary list, starting with Adria. The WMO retired from using Greek letters earlier this year because of confusion caused by similar-sounding letters: Zeta, Eta, and Theta.

The Atlantic has been quiet for the last two weeks since Hurricane Sam’s long trek through the Atlantic and became a post-tropical storm on Oct. 5.

There have been 20 named storms this year.

At this same point last year, meteorologists were keeping track of 27 named storms with Epsilon and Zeta spinning in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. The latter struck Louisiana on Oct. 28 as a Category 3 major hurricane causing $1.25 billion in damages, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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