Agency again exhausts list of storm names

With formation of Wanda, count for Atlantic hurricane season reaches 21

For the second time in two years and only the third time in history, meteorologists have exhausted the list of names used to identify storms during the Atlantic hurricane season.

With the formation of Subtropical Storm Wanda on Saturday, there have been 21 named storms this year, starting with Tropical Storm Ana in May.

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

Wanda is not expected to pose any danger to land, the National Hurricane Center reported Sunday. It was located about 850 miles southeast of Cape Race in Newfoundland, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, forecasters said.

The storm was moving east-southeast at 16 mph. The maximum sustained winds are expected to increase to 60 mph and continue for about 48 hours before the storm weakens, forecasters said.

Last year's season saw a record-breaking 30 named storms, 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 announced 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.

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 such as 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 such as Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than they would have without the human impacts 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 13-20 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 15-21 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.