A weather system gaining strength in the Atlantic Ocean is expected to be named Tropical Storm Danielle later on Thursday, becoming the fourth named storm of the season.
The depression is about midway between New Jersey and Portugal with wind speeds up to 35 miles per hour (55 kilometres per hour).
It is forecast to reach tropical storm force winds of 39 mph (63 kph) or more later in the day, officially becoming Tropical Storm Danielle, the fourth named storm of the hurricane season.
In the coming days, the storm is forecast to reach Category 1 hurricane status with winds of at least 74 mph (119kph) maximum wind speed.
The storm is not predicted to reach the US or Europe in the next few days, and poses no coastal hazard, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The Atlantic hurricane season has been extremely quiet in 2022, the first year in four decades with only three tropical storms by the end of August.
It is the first year since 1997 where no cyclones formed in the month of August, typically one of the busiest hurricane months.
However two other storm systems currently brewing in the Atlantic could kick off a more active part of the year as peak hurricane season begins this month.
One storm system is a few hundred miles east of Barbados in the mid-Atlantic, moving slowly towards North America. On Thursday, NHC gave the storm an 80 per cent chance of forming a cyclone in the next five days.
The second system is off the west coast of Senegal in Africa. That storm has a 30 per cent chance of forming a cyclone in the next five days, though NHC says that by late in the week it will hit cooler waters and further development is unlikely.
This year is the first time since the early 1980s that only three tropical storms had formed in the Atlantic by the end of August. In 1982, only six tropical storms formed in total all year, with two reaching hurricane-strength winds of 74 mph (119 kph) or above.
This year may prove to be a sleeping giant, however. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has maintained its forecast for an active hurricane season as of early August, with up to 20 named storms — including up to 10 hurricanes.
Between three and five of those storms were predicted to be major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher, with wind speeds of 111 mph (179 kph) or more.
Hurricane season runs from June through November with peak activity between late August and early October.
The hurricane season was supposed to be stronger in part due to the ongoing La Niña phenomenon. But during much of the summer, dry air and heavy winds killed off a lot of storm potential, Bloomberg reported.
The latest assessment from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that while the climate crisis may not cause more hurricanes, it is likely to make them stronger.
In the past four decades, the percentage of hurricanes reaching the more destructive Category 3 or higher has increased, the IPCC said.
The growing threat of hurricanes is another consequence of fossil fuel-driven global heating. NOAA has said that when it comes to hurricanes, heating the planet is “like adding fuel to a fire”.
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