Tropical Depression Two rapidly developed off the coast of North Carolina on Monday morning, and AccuWeather forecasters say the tropical system may strengthen further with the potential for it to become the second named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, exactly two weeks into the season.
If it does, it will be given the name Bill.
The depression was located about 105 miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C., with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph at 11 a.m. EDT Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was moving to the northeast at a forward speed of 21 mph.
Even though this system is not a threat to the United States, it will churn up seas offshore, which would be a concern for shipping and fishing interests. As this small system passes just to the east of New England, it is possible that a brief period of rough surf may occur in eastern Massachusetts, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard on Tuesday.
"Warm waters of the Gulf Stream have nurtured the system this past weekend and may continue to do so long enough in the short term for tropical storm generation," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.
Further development of the Gulf Stream system can occur at any time Monday and Tuesday, but the life span of the feature off the U.S. east coast as a tropical depression or storm is likely to be short-lived.
"Strong winds associated with a developing southward dip in the jet stream in the Northeast are expected to be enough to prevent landfall in the U.S. and whisk the system away at increasing speed through the middle of the week," Pydynowski said.
"As the system moves farther to the northeast, progressively colder waters beneath it will lead to its demise," Pydynowski explained, adding that it is predicted to transition from a tropical feature to a non-tropical feature as it moves farther out to sea.
Tropical systems are warm-core storms that need warm water to thrive and help produce towering clouds and thunderstorms near their center. Upwelling or movement over cold water slows and stops this process and causes storms to weaken as a result.
However, the system may track close enough to Nova Scotia to bring downpours and breezy conditions as a rainstorm Wednesday.
This system is following weeks after the first storm of the season, Ana, which developed into a tropical storm just northeast of Bermuda last month and had a brief life span over the middle of the Atlantic.
AccuWeather meteorologists have been keeping a close eye on a few different areas of the basin for development. Since early June, AccuWeather's team of tropical forecasters have been monitoring the possibility of a tropical system to organize in the western Gulf of Mexico during mid-June. Such a system, whether it becomes a named storm or not, could deliver another dose of torrential rain and flooding to part of the upper Gulf Coast, where some areas have received 1-2 feet of rain since early May, and could exacerbate flooding issues.
Beyond that, there are other features AccuWeather meteorologists are keeping close tabs on in the Atlantic basin, which is becoming increasingly active. One or two more systems may gather names prior to the end of June. The next two names on the list of tropical storms for 2021 after Bill are Claudette and Danny.
One feature of interest is a disturbance moving westward across the eastern part of the Caribbean as of Monday. This feature is forecast to continue to move slowly west this week. This disturbance could play a role in the development of the western Gulf system at the end of the week.
Another feature is a strong disturbance that moved off the west coast of Africa over the weekend.
"At present course and speed, this system, which could organize and strengthen, would be near the Windward and Leeward islands of the eastern Caribbean this weekend," Pydynowski said.
Both systems bear watching even though it is very early for tropical activity in the main season development zone, which is just north of the equator over the Atlantic. This season, known as the Cabo Verde season, named for a group of islands just off the coast of Africa, represents the heart of the Atlantic hurricane season and is most active during the months of August, September and October.
Last year, the "B" storm, Bertha formed during late May. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season went on to be the busiest on record with 30 named storms.
AccuWeather is predicting that the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season will be another busy one, but not quite as hyperactive as 2020. From 16 to 20 named storms are expected with three to five direct impacts on the U.S.