MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) – Tropical Storm Beta formed Thursday off the coast of Nicaragua, extending this year’s record of named storms in the Atlantic hurricane season.

Beta is the season’s 23rd tropical storm, the most since record keeping began in 1851.

The storm was expected to become a hurricane late Thursday or today.

It will likely hit a stretch of Nicaragua’s sparsely populated Caribbean coastline early Saturday, but forecasters said it was not expected to threaten the United States.

Richard Knabb, hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, said it was not unusual to get storm activity toward the end of hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30.

“It may not be over with Beta, but let’s hope so,” he said.

At 11 a.m. EDT, the storm was centered 75 miles southeast of San Andres Island and 175 miles east of Bluefields, Nicaragua. Maximum sustained winds were near 50 mph.

Beta is expected to dump up to 15 inches across western Panama, Costa Rica, northeastern Honduras and Nicaragua.

Tropical Storm Alpha formed last week, the first time a letter from the Greek alphabet has been used because the list of storm names was exhausted. The previous record of 21 storms stood since 1933.

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