Tag Archives: tropical storm

A new tropical storm, Peter, has formed in the Atlantic. Another, Rose, is likely to follow soon

A new tropical storm has been brewing in the Atlantic. Christened “Peter”, it marks the 16th named storm of this year’s hurricane season.

Forecasted path of tropical storm Peter. Image credits National Hurricane Center.

Tropical storm Peter formed east of the Caribbean on Sunday, centered some 400 miles off the Leeward Islands. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the storm is expected to pass north of the Lesser Antilles and is likely to produce between one and three inches of rainfall around its edge. Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Leeward Islands are liable to see “areas of urban and small stream flooding” up through Tuesday, the NHC adds. Top wind speeds are expected to fall below or around 45 mph (72.5 km/h).

Stormy again

Although it has barely been a week since Hurricane Nicholas slid across Texas and Louisiana, and just a little over three since Hurricane Ida battered the same shores, a new storm is brewing in the Atlantic.

Tropical storm Peter is the sixth hurricane to form this year. Along with these, three major hurricanes (meaning they were a category 3 or higher in intensity) have raged in 2021, making it quite the busy year. Naturally, more could be on the way. As far as Peter is concerned, the NHC notes that a strong cold mass of air is moving eastward across the U.S., which is likely to butt heads with the storm. This front of cold air should push Peter back out to the ocean and insulate the Eastern Seaboard, if not completely, then at least to a certain extent.

Despite the formation of this tropical storm, no coastal watches or warnings were in effect as of this Sunday in any of the areas highlighted by the NHC.

Forecasters are also keeping tabs on a tropical depression in the eastern Atlantic. This particular low-pressure system was picked up around 315 miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands (off the western coast of Africa). While not particularly intense right now, moving northwards at around 14 mph with sustained winds of around 35 mph (22.5 and 56.3 km/h respectively), there is still a high chance that it will morph into a new tropical storm — which will be named “Rose”. The two storms started coalescing pretty much at the same time, but Peter developed more rapidly in intensity.

If we consider Rose as well, this would be the third Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history to have 17 named storms by the 20th of September. The others were the 1966 season, the 2005 one, and 2020. The link between climate change and freak weather or events such as hurricanes has been highlighted in the past, and the high incidence of storms recorded this season certainly seems to follow that hypothesis.

Each hurricane in every year is given a name starting with the corresponding letter of the alphabet — A for the first, B for the second, and so on. Last year, in particular, had so many named storms that meteorologists exhausted the alphabet and had to assign Greek letters, only the second time in history that this has happened. It still holds the record for the highest number of storms in a single year, 30. The runner-up is still the 2005 hurricane season, with 28 recorded storms.

Hurricanes are primarily fed by expanses of open, warm water. As the planet’s climate heats up overall, so do the oceans, meaning we’re likely to see stronger and more frequent events of this kind in the future. They are also likely to become wetter — to carry more precipitation — due to higher overall levels of moisture in the atmosphere, as higher mean temperatures lead to higher levels of surface evaporation. As storms increase in intensity and sea levels rise, they are also liable to generate more storm surges, and thus become more dangerous over time.

A report by the United Nations released in August has also issued a warning to this extent. According to the document, unavoidable shifts in climate will lead to more intense and more frequent heatwaves and droughts over the next 30 years. Hurricanes have already been following this trend for the last 40 years, it adds.

Hurricanes are becoming faster, more frequent, and almost 40% of Americans are exposed to them

Tropical cyclones, also known as hurricanes or typhoons, have been moving ever faster since 1982, according to a new study.

Image in the public domain.

The research, led by members from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science (SOEST), found that such storms have been steadily picking up pace in the last four decades. At the same time, it reports an uptick in hurricane frequency in the North Atlantic region over the same timeline, and that such storms are increasingly moving towards the poles in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Storms a-brewing

“For people in Hawai’i, the threat of hurricanes is always there every year,” said Pao-Shin Chu, atmospheric sciences professor at SOEST. “If hurricanes move faster they would pose danger to coastal communities and emergency managers because they would have less time to prepare for evacuation and other measures.”

The authors explain that such findings are incredibly important for the US as a whole, not just the islands of Hawai’i. Roughly 40% of the country’s total population lives in coastal areas, making them very vulnerable in the face of tropical storms and hurricanes.

The study looked at tropical cyclones since 1982, when reliable satellite data on the topic first became available. Using this data, they determined the frequency of cyclone formation, where they formed, and how their speeds evolved globally and by region. The speeds considered here are of translation, not rotation — i.e. how fast the storms are moving across the landscape, not how fast they’re turning around the eye of the storm.

“Given that TC [tropical cyclone] activity in the North Atlantic is closely related to the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation and a poleward shift of TC exposure is likely induced by global warming, the recent increase in the global-mean TC translation speed is a joint outcome of both natural variations and anthrophonic effects,” the paper reads.

All in all, the translation speed of tropical cyclones has increased by roughly 0.31 km h−1 per decade over the last four decades. Such storms are also increasingly moving away from the equator towards the poles, so areas that weren’t traditionally exposed to hurricanes might need to prepare for such events in the future.

The paper “An increase in global trends of tropical cyclone translation speed since 1982 and its physical causes” has been published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Puerto Rico braces for tropical storm Dorian

Tropical Storm Dorian is on track to slam the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico — an island still grappling with the devastation of Hurricane Maria. US President Donald Trump has already declared a state of emergency, with the national guard already in place.

Credit: Flickr

Dorian is considered a very compact storm, with tropical-storm-force winds, ranging from 39 mph to 73 mph, extending only 45 miles from the center. Dorian is expected to dump up to 10 inches of rain over the Windward Islands and up to 8 inches in Barbados and Dominica.

But it could also become a hurricane, according to meteorologists. Dorian is forecast to intensify into a hurricane after it passes the Windward Islands and moves into the Caribbean Sea. Dorian is the fourth named storm of this hurricane season, which is now on its peak.

Puerto Ricans are scrambling to stock up on supplies before Dorian approaches Wednesday evening. Rescue teams are also preparing for the storm. A team of over 200 people from nearly 30 different fire departments in South Florida were preparing for deployment to the Caribbean and Puerto Rico.

“We ask our citizens to stay calm, not speculate on the possibilities, stay informed from official news sources, take necessary precautions and to know that the PRNG is vigilant and ready to assist them if necessary,” said Maj. Gen. Jose J. Reyes from Puerto Rico National Guard.

Puerto Rico has struggled to recover from the back-to-back 2017 hurricanes that killed about 3,000 people just months after the territory filed for bankruptcy to restructure $120 billion of debt and pension obligations.

“Wow! Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico. Will it ever end?” Trump wrote on Twitter. Trump, who has been criticized for his administration’s response to the 2017 storms, has accused the island’s leaders of squandering billions in disaster relief aid.

Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez declared a state of emergency late on Monday. She said there would be about 360 shelters open across the island.

“I want everyone to feel calm,” she said. “Agency directors have prepared for the last two years. The experience of Maria has been a great lesson for everyone.”

“We are better prepared than when Hurricane Maria attacked our island,” she told a news conference.