Even for the peak of hurricane season, this is a little extreme.
The National Hurricane Center is monitoring six named storms and five areas to watch from Hawaii across the Americas and throughout the Atlantic. In a full-fledged tropical frenzy, the atmosphere has been spinning up systems like a factory, the barrage an ominous sign of an imminent uptick in Atlantic hurricane activity within the next two weeks.
We will start in the Atlantic, where Humberto has prompted a hurricane warning in Bermuda. The major Category 3 hurricane will brush just north of the island Wednesday night, its expanding wind field set to buffet residents with 80 mph winds. Two to four inches of rainfall is anticipated on Bermuda as well. Thirty-foot wave heights have already been detected by offshore NOAA buoys.
Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Imelda, now parked over Texas, spun up suddenly Tuesday. It was declared a tropical depression at noon Tuesday, a tropical storm at 12:45 p.m. and made landfall at 1:30 p.m. By 7 p.m., Imelda was back down to a tropical depression, but that marked a mere wind-driven technicality — the system continues to bring dangerous, excessive rainfall to the Texas Gulf Coast and extreme southwestern Louisiana. Localized amounts topping 20 inches have been measured with more than 36 hours left to go in the prolonged event.
Yet another system — Tropical Storm Jerry — spun up well east of the Leeward Islands early Wednesday. With winds of 45 mph, it’s forecast to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane by late week. Current forecasts take it safely north of Puerto Rico, at which point it is most likely to pass between the Bahamas and Bermuda, sparing land masses any significant impact. However, that forecast could change, so it is important to check back for frequent updates.
But wait, there is more! A pair of disturbances east of Jerry are worth watching as well. Right now neither is looking overtly potent — the National Hurricane Center gives them just a 30 percent and 10 percent chance of developing, respectively. But either may prove mischievous, particularly the latter, in the longer-range as more favorable environmental conditions for storm development overspread the Atlantic.
In the Pacific, it’s a wild tropics-a-palooza. Kiko, Lorena and Mario are all tropical storms with 60 to 65 mph winds. Lorena, west of the Mexican state of Colima, could “produce life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides” in the Sierra Madre mountains and foothills. It’s forecast to strengthen, and a hurricane warning is up for Punta San Telmo to Cabo Corrientes. Farther south, an elongated low-pressure zone near the coasts of Guatemala and El Salvador could toss some heavy rainfall back at them as well.
To the west, Kiko and Mario are doing their thing over the open Pacific. Both are drifting along whimsically, with little threat to land.
Then we visit the Aloha state, which is playing a game of dodge ball — but instead of balls, there are tropical waves. Three of them are within 700 miles of the Hawaiian archipelago, in fact. Each has a dice-roll chance of development, but all should avoid Hawaii ... for now.
So what on earth is going on? September. September is happening. We are at the peak of hurricane season, and evidently all the oceans under the auspices of the National Hurricane Center got the memo. As one National Hurricane Center meteorologist Eric Blake summed it up, “I give.”
“This is uncommon even for the peak of hurricane season,” Blake tweeted.
Part of the increase in action may be thanks to a convectively coupled Kelvin wave approaching from the west. These large-scale overturning circulations drift eastward over the tropical Atlantic with time. They feature sinking air on their east flanks, partially squashing tropical growth. But broad lifting on their backsides (to the west) can dramatically boost hurricane development. That may have fostered the wild flurry of tropical activity now plaguing the Pacific — and could help the Atlantic “rage” beginning in the next week to two.
Buckle up. We are not done yet.