Tropical Storm Bearing Down on Caribbean

July 28, 2020

Buckle up. Early predictions of an active storm season are bearing out in the Atlantic.

Tropical wave has now become Tropical Storm 9, and is expected to become Named storm Isaias later today or tomorrow.
Pronunciation guide here.

Common Dreams:

“Hate to say, ‘We told you so.'”

That comment came in a Monday tweet from climatologist Michael E. Mann, responding to a pair of meteorologists who noted the warm waters along the East Coast of the United States, which “means trouble for any tropical cyclones coming up the coast” for the next several weeks of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Mann, an atmospheric science professor at Penn State who directs the university’s Earth System Science Center (ESSC), and other experts have warned that human-driven global heating that’s warming the world’s oceans is already causing and will continue to cause more intense and devastating tropical storms and hurricanes.

In April, Mann, ESSC scientist Daniel J. Brouillette, and alumnus Michael Kozar released their pre-season forecast for the 2020 North Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from the beginning of June to the end of November. They predicted a range of 15 to 24 named storms, with a “best estimate” of 20, for this year’s season.

On Monday, Mann pointed out this was the first season in a decade for which they forecast up to 20 storms, then warned that “if anything, that might be too low…”

From NASA, SST anomalies as of July 14, 2020

NASA Earth Observatory:

Less than two months into hurricane season, the Atlantic basin has already produced six named storms, delivering some of the earliest activity in the past fifty years. None of the storms reached hurricane intensity, but the sheer number of them fit with forecasts of a busy season.

Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center predicted in May that 2020 would likely be an above-average hurricane season. A typical year brings 12 named storms (winds of at least 63 kilometers/39 miles per hour), of which 6 become hurricanes (winds of at least 120 kilometers/74 miles per hour). This year, forecasters predicted 13 to 19 named storms, of which 6 to 10 would become hurricanes. Storm formation and intensification depend on a number of complex variables and conditions, and several are lining up in favor of robust activity in 2020.

“Early season storm activity does not necessarily correlate with later hurricane activity,” said Jim Kossin, an atmospheric scientist with NOAA. “But if we’re in a season where the environment is conducive to storm formation early on, then those underlying favorable conditions often persist throughout the season.”

Sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean have been abnormally warm so far in 2020, which could help fuel storms. Warm ocean water evaporates and provides moisture and energy for the lower atmosphere. As water vapor rises and condenses, it releases heat that warms the surrounding air and can promote the growth of storms. Ocean waters typically need to be above 27°C (80°F) for storms to develop. In early July, parts of the Atlantic basin (which includes the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean) hit temperatures of 30°C (86°F).

7 Responses to “Tropical Storm Bearing Down on Caribbean”

  1. Jim Hunt Says:

    Don’t forget the suddenly active storm season in the Arctic Peter.

    A sub 970 hPa cyclone bearing down on the sea ice in the Beaufort Sea. Hurricane force winds and a picture perfect “reverse dipole” even as we speak.

    Does Twatter embed on here? Let’s give it a go:

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    To get your nerd on for this hurricane season:

    NOAA summary:

    Pretty much the replacement for the Cat6 blog:

    Tropical Tidbits channel for active storm analysis:

  3. Stop looking for storms and there will be fewer storms (hat tip to Trump)

  4. Jim Hunt Says:

    Hang on tight to your towel Ford!

    “You can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”

    (Hat tip to Douglas Adams)

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