- The first tropical system of the Atlantic hurricane season is forecast to make landfall in the U.S. by the end of the week, possibly bringing heavy rain and flooding from Texas to Florida.
- If the weather disturbance strengthens into a tropical storm, it would be called Claudette, the third named storm of this year's hurricane season.
- The U.S. is already facing and already stretched disaster response because of a record-shattering drought and wildfires are gripping the Western U.S.
The first tropical system of the Atlantic hurricane season is forecast to make landfall in the U.S. by the end of the week, according to the National Hurricane Center, possibly bringing heavy rain and flooding from the Texas coast to the Florida Panhandle.
If the weather disturbance strengthens into a tropical storm, it would be called Claudette, the third named storm of this year's Atlantic hurricane season, which began this month and ends Nov. 30.
The Atlantic recorded the first named storm last month, when a subtropical storm named Ana formed near Bermuda. That marked the seventh consecutive year that a named storm arrived before the official start date of the season.
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The U.S. already faces a stretched disaster response. A record-shattering drought is gripping the West, raising fears of power outages and more severe wildfires. And residents in the Gulf Coast are still recovering and rebuilding from last year's record number of storms.
Hurricane season is becoming longer and more intense as climate change triggers more frequent and destructive storms. Global warming is also increasing the number of storms that move slowly and stall along the coast, a phenomenon that produces heavier rainfall and more dangerous storm surges.
President Joe Biden, during a visit to Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in May, said the agency would double spending to help cities and states prepare for extreme weather disasters, to $1 billion this year from $500 million last year.
"We all know that the storms are coming, and we're going to be prepared," the president said during a briefing. "We have to be ready. It's not about red states and blue states. It's about having people's backs in the toughest moments that they face, ready with food, water, blankets, shelters and more."
There were so many storms last year that forecasters went through the entire alphabet and started using Greek letters to name storms.
An average season has 12 named storms and six hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But the agency has forecast another above-normal season this year, with 13 to 20 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes, including three to five major hurricanes.
NOAA said it didn't anticipate the historic level of storms seen in 2020, which saw a record 30 named storms, 13 of which were hurricanes, battering parts of the Gulf Coast and Central America.
Acting NOAA administrator Ben Friedman, in a release of the agency's 2021 forecast, said that while scientists don't expect this year to be as busy as last year, "it only takes one storm to devastate a community."
The 2020 storms accounted for $43 billion in losses, nearly half of the total disaster loss in the U.S. last year, according to reinsurance company Munich Re. Residents in states like Louisiana, which experienced a record five storms last year, are still struggling to rebuild as this year's season closes in.