It’s a time of full-fledged tropical fury, with four named tropical cyclones and three areas to watch between the Atlantic and east Pacific Ocean basins. As the tropical rainstorm spurred by Imelda’s remnants finally starts to taper in Texas, Bermuda eyes its second hurricane threat in 10 days. Meanwhile, additional waves shedding off the coast of Africa are likely to develop into cyclones within the coming week.
We begin along the Gulf Coast, where the remnants of Imelda have dropped up to 43.4 inches of rain. The bull’s eye of most extreme rain totals with this latest disaster largely overlaps with the area hardest hit by Harvey in 2017, the one-two punch devastating beleaguered residents. Officially, Imelda goes down in the books as the fifth-wettest named tropical system on record in the contiguous United States.
Texas’s Golden Triangle region also saw more than three feet of rain with Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, and more than a foot with Claudette in 1979.
Across the Atlantic, Jerry has maintained hurricane strength. Its center is about 350 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, and though its track will take it well north of the Leeward Islands, heavy rainfall and rip currents remain possible.
Jerry will arc northwestward before an abrupt northeasterly turn, potentially taking its center of circulation close to or over Bermuda on Tuesday or Wednesday. This comes less than a week after Category 3 Humberto’s eyewall nicked Bermuda’s northern fringe Wednesday night, bringing winds gusting over 130 mph. Bermuda’s 11-mile-long island is a minuscule, but well-placed, target for hurricanes.
Bermuda has suffered three direct landfalls and numerous sideswipes in just the past five years, making it perhaps the most hurricane-prone community in the Atlantic. That may seem surprising, but the reason most don’t know this is because Bermuda’s placement well outside the tropics has always spared it from Category 4 and 5 hurricanes, which are the strongest.
Jerry will peter along at current intensity as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane for the next several days, likely remaining at hurricane strength until just after it passes Bermuda.
In addition to Jerry, several tropical waves are being monitored for potential development. Two of them look marginal. One is just southwest of Hispaniola. The other is about 1,000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. They have a 10 percent and 30 percent chance of developing, respectively.
However, a third African easterly wave looks a little more interesting. It’s about 300 miles inland in Africa, centered over the border between Guinea and southwest Mali. It’s extremely unusual for the National Hurricane Center to outlook an area this early before it’s even moved off the coast. And not only is it highlighted — it’s been dubbed “likely” to develop. The National Hurricane Center gives it a 70 percent shot of doing so within five days.
Signs point to this robust wave developing southwest of the Cabo Verde islands and quickly growing into a hurricane. With little inhibition, it could become a major hurricane. However, all computer models keep it out to sea, recurving northward over the middle of the Atlantic. For the time being, it looks as though no land masses are to be impacted, but it bears watching. If it’s named, Karen is up next.
There will also be two other tropical waves that exit the African coast by the end of the month. While neither has developed yet, both systems as modeled could be ones to watch.
Elsewhere, the eastern Pacific is crammed with a dizzying dance of twirling tropical cyclones. Lorena, a minimal hurricane, is at the tip of the Baja peninsula, drifting west as a Category 1 storm. Four hundred miles south and paralleling it is Tropical Storm Mario. And midway between Mexico and Hawaii spins Tropical Storm Kiko, for which no land masses are in play.