'Don' and 'Hilary' storm near US

Washington (AFP) –


Off the Atlantic coast, Tropical Storm Don is thundering away. Meantime in the Pacific, a roaring tropical depression will be named Hilary if it grows into a tropical storm, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

To have dueling storms with the names Don and Hilary so soon after the bruising presidential election of 2016 might leave some Americans muttering "too soon." But government forecasters insist their joint appearance has nothing to do with politics.

Since 1953, the NHC has kept six different lists of storm names, used over and over in rotation. Thus, the 2017 name list will be back in 2023. And different series are used in different regions, resulting in Don roiling Atlantic waters while Hilary whips things up in the Pacific.

American news media and internet commentators have not missed the chance to make the most of stormy references to former presidential rivals Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The NHC describes Don as "small," with "well-defined surface circulation" but "not particularly well-organized."

Since first appearing Monday, Don has led to weather alerts in Barbados as well as Trinidad and Tobago.

But it dissipated rapidly overnight Tuesday without ever reaching hurricane status. Its maximum sustained winds of 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour have fallen short of the 74 miles per hour needed for that classification.

Meanwhile, a tropical depression was developing in the Pacific. Designated as storm Eight-E, it will become Tropical Storm Hilary only if it reaches wind strengths of at least 39 miles per hour.

A 1500 GMT NHC bulletin said the storm is carrying wind speeds of 34 miles per hour -- with little change expected in the coming hours -- and poses no immediate threat to land. Its circulation was dubbed "irregular."

There have been no hurricanes yet this year in the Atlantic, but three already in the Pacific.