DISCUSSION: Over the past 24 to 36 hours, the international atmospheric science community and millions of people around the world just going about their daily lives observed a true marvel of Mother Nature’s raw ability, to say the very least. Across the Tropical Western Pacific Ocean basin just a little over a day ago, there were concerns regarding the potential for a period of rapid intensification for what was (at the time) a weaker Typhoon Maria. Within just a 16-hour time-span, Typhoon Maria went from a minor typhoon to being just on the cusp of being a Category 5 intensity Super Typhoon with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph during the day on Friday (EDT).
Having said that, it is imperative to acknowledge the fact that Typhoon Maria had been located within a very conducive atmospheric environment for rapid intensification due to a combination of particularly warm sea-surface temperatures and relatively low vertical wind shear. In addition to the presence of the warmer sea-surface temperatures in the general region of where Maria was positioned, there was also a plethora of low-level moisture in and around the developing tropical cyclone. This factor further facilitated the reality of even more efficient rapid intensification processes by providing an abundance of low/mid-level moistened, warm air which is the critical “fuel” which tropical cyclones require for intensification processes to occur at maximum efficiency (assuming all other needed components are present).
On the flip-side, across the eastern portion of the Tropical Atlantic basin, people living across various parts of the Caribbean and the contiguous United States watched as what was simply a struggling depression within the past 24 hours became Tropical Storm Beryl as of earlier Friday morning. From there, the initial forecast was for Tropical Storm Beryl to hang on to its current intensity and then gradually dissipate as it headed towards a much less favorable environment for tropical cyclone development and/or maintenance. Therefore, many meteorologists were just about ready to “write the storm off and count it down and out.”
However, by early afternoon (EDT), Tropical Storm Beryl had other ideas in mind as it became Hurricane Beryl with a tight zone of maximum sustained winds of right around 80 mph. Thus, becoming the first hurricane of the 2018 Tropical Atlantic hurricane season on 5 July 2018. However, as is captured by the image attached above (courtesy of Meteorologist Stu Ostro), these two respective tropical cyclones are incredibly different in size with Super Typhoon Maria being a monster of a storm and Hurricane Beryl being a tiny little storm which you can almost miss on a basin-wide animated satellite loop of the Tropical Atlantic. It just goes to show that time, tide, and all combined factors/circumstances make all the difference in the world when it comes to anticipating how the “tale of two storms” may evolve.
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© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz