The Atlantic Hurricane Season starts on June 1st and lasts until November 30th every year. This year, there have been 13 tropical cyclones, 5 of which have been major hurricane status.
Tropical Storm Arlene lasted from 19-20 April and remained in the northern Atlantic for the entire life span. Tropical Storm Bret occurred 19-20 June and was located just north of South America. Tropical Storm Cindy was located in the Gulf of Mexico and impacted Texas and Louisiana between 20-23 June. Tropical Storm Don occurred 17-18 July, and was located just above northeastern South America. Tropical Storm Emily happened between 31 July through 1 August and impacted Florida. Emily formed and made landfall in less than 24 hours and brought torrential rainfall followed by serious flooding to parts of Florida. Hurricane Franklin happened between 6-10 August and impacted the Yucatan Peninsula. Franklin rapidly intensified before making landfall in Mexico, before completely dying out. Once the remnants of Franklin crossed over to the Pacific, a new system was born but was very short-lived. Hurricane Gert occurred between 13-17 August and remained over open water. Gert formed north of the Caribbean and had a northward track before turning northeastward.
Hurricane Harvey was the first to become a major hurricane. Harvey began the journey north of South America but didn’t become a hurricane until it crossed over the Yucatan Peninsula. Rapidly intensifying to a strong Category 4, Harvey made landfall in Texas and then sat over the same area for days. Torrential rain along with storm surge completely flooded coastal areas. Rainfall was measured in feet as Harvey sat over Texas.
Hurricane Irma was the next storm and left a reputation in its wake. Irma started in the eastern Atlantic and tore through the islands of the Caribbean bringing devastation to places such as Antigua and Barbuda. Irma went back and forth between a strong Category 4 and an even stronger Category 5 hurricane. After impacting Cuba, Irma made a northward turn toward the Florida Keys. Irma had weakened a bit before hitting the Florida Keys, however, was still a very strong Category 4 hurricane. Making landfall in the Keys, Irma headed for the mainland and impacted places such as Naples, and Tampa. Irma pulled the water from the beaches as it traveled northward, and then pushed the water back onto the beaches as it passed.
Hurricane Jose had occurred in Irma’s wake, hitting the very places Irma destroyed. Jose was also a major hurricane as a Category 4 hurricane. Jose made a northward turn missing the East Coast of the United States, however, Jose was close enough to churn up high swells along the Mid-Atlantic and New England states.
Hurricane Katia occurred in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico making landfall in eastern Mexico. Hurricane Lee started in the eastern Atlantic and had a western track. Lee dissipated to a tropical depression and re-emerged in the central Atlantic to become a major hurricane. Lee is still ongoing as of 27 September.
Hurricane Maria started in the eastern Atlantic and traveled westward toward the eastern Caribbean and made landfall in Dominica and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was mostly spared during Hurricane Irma, but did not have the same luck with Hurricane Maria. Maria slammed Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane with surface winds of 155 mph. The radar was knocked out by Hurricane Maria as she was making landfall. Puerto Rico was devastated by Maria and is still in need of help. Maria made a northward turn coming close to the Outer Banks of North Carolina pushing high surf and life-threatening rip currents onto the coast. Maria is also ongoing as of 27 September, as a Category 1 and is expected to pull off the coast in a northeastward direction.
Unfortunately, the Atlantic Hurricane Season is not over. The National Hurricane Center has a low chance of development over Florida within the next five days.
The graphic above is only up to Hurricane Irma. This is only a preliminary as the season is not yet over.
Stay tuned for more updates here!
ⓒ 2017 Meteorologist Brandie Cantrell
Image 1. The eight hurricanes as of 24 September 2017 per The Weather Channel.
Image 2. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center’s (CPC) 2017 Atlantic hurricane outlook per CPC.
DISCUSSION: We’ve reached a new record as September 2017 is officially the most active month of any Atlantic hurricane season!
Looking back, NOAA CPC’s Atlantic Hurricane Outlook predicted 11-17 named storms, 5-9 total hurricanes, and 2-4 major hurricanes for this season. Now, with just over two months left, the 2017 hurricane season has already reached its eighth consecutive hurricane in the Atlantic basin. 1893 was the last year that the Atlantic basin encountered as many or even more consecutive hurricanes.
So why have there been so many severe tropical systems lately? In addition to basic ingredients, there are a few other major sources of fuel that enhance hurricane severity. Warm cycles of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) greatly fuel tropical systems, allowing them to mature into severe hurricanes. The AMO has been in a warm phase since the mid-1990s. Additionally, a rare internal process known as rapid intensification also leads to the presence of major hurricanes. The National Hurricane Center defines the process as maximum sustained winds increasing by at least 35 mph in 24 hours or less.
By the time 30 November comes around, there will be a plethora of research angles to evaluate the 2017 hurricane season. Studies will be conducted to better understand just why so many severe hurricanes occurred in such a short span of time and how the storms have affected other atmospheric and oceanic phenomena.
To further investigate tropical cycles, click here.
©2017 Weather Forecaster Amber Liggett
DISCUSSION: In the days now following the largest impacts from Hurricane Maria, there continues to be major damage issues across the islands of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Hispaniola, etc. As a result of this large-scale aftermath of Maria, many people are just trying to begin to start returning their lives to some reasonable sense of normalcy. In that light, Hurricane Maria has already turned a lot of heads due to the fact that this tropical cyclone has inflicted tremendous damage across Puerto Rico as well as parts of the central Caribbean (including but not limited to the Dominican Republic, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, as well as the southern/central Bahamas). It is a very unfortunate (but educational) situation since it will likely be many weeks to months until power and other basic functions are restored to the thousands of people and families living across the entire island. Hence, there will undoubtedly be tremendous unrest in terms of there being major long-term impacts from the storm surge as well as the intense winds which impacted the entire island for several hours. It goes without saying that such a destructive tropical cyclone should help to educate the general public about the inherent threat which is tied to landfalls from intense tropical cyclones anywhere in the world. The main lesson from this latest destructive tropical cyclone being that a single storm has the natural ability to forever change lives in a matter of minutes to hours.
To learn more about this and other tropical cyclone events from around the world, be sure to click here!
©2017 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
There’s data and there’s statistics. There’s also the misrepresentation of these.
We all know that statistics themselves don’t lie, but the people who use statistics may intentionally or unintentionally do so. A Tweet late yesterday by Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) was the most recent example to catch my eye. With the Atlantic Ocean region bustling with intense hurricanes at this time, it would be easy for some people to draw an incorrect conclusion from Holthaus’ data (Fig. 1) – i.e., that intense hurricane activity is escalating. But that’s not necessarily what is happening…To read the full story, click here - http://www.weatherworks.com/lifelong-learning-blog/?p=1411
© 2017 H. Michael Mogil
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Hurricane Maria has Puerto Rico in its crosshairs this evening. As of 7:00 PM AST, Maria has maximum sustained winds of 175 mph with a minimum pressure of 909 mb. The Virgin Islands as well as Puerto Rico are under a hurricane warning and conditions are starting to deteriorate rapidly as Maria gets closer. Hurricane Irma barely touched Puerto Rico leaving the strongest part of the storm north of the island. Puerto Rico will not be that lucky, however, as Hurricane Maria is expected to make a direct hit. Forecasters are calling it a “potentially devastating storm.” Additional strengthening is expected tonight as Maria shows no signs of weakening. Life-threatening storm surge, flooding due to heavy rainfall and very high swells are the main concerns from Maria. This is, of course, in addition to the 175 mph winds with 200+ mph wind gusts. After making landfall in Puerto Rico, Maria is forecasted to weaken as it makes the turn to the northwest, and then eventually north. However, Maria is still expected to remain a major hurricane until at least Saturday. The U.S East Coast as well as Bermuda need to be paying attention to forecasts in case they change.
Be sure to check back for updates here!
ⓒ Meteorologist Brandie Cantrell
DISCUSSION: As of earlier in the day on Monday (September 18th, 2017), a strengthening Hurricane Maria was upgraded from a Category 1 hurricane to a Category 5 hurricane within just over a 14-hour time frame. It goes without saying that this was a very unexpected turn of events based on the fact that as of earlier today, Maria was expected to intensify to upwards of a Category 3 hurricane as the day progressed on Monday. However, as Maria remained in an incredibly favorable area for rapid intensification, the storm went on to intensity all the way up to a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained wind speeds of 160 MPH before impacting the Caribbean islands of Dominica. Prior the official landfall of Category 5 Hurricane Maria on the island of Dominica, a Hurricane Hunter Reconnaissance Aircraft successfully launched a dropsonde (i.e., a downward-moving sensor which measures wind speed, wind direction, temperature, and dew point) within the eye of Hurricane Maria.
Attached above is the atmospheric sounding which was associated with the aforementioned dropsonde launch. Note how below the 850 mb level the red line (i.e., the temperature profile) and the green line (i.e., the dew point profile), the atmosphere was much closer to being saturated. However, above the 850 mb level, there was a strong intrusion of much drier air as indicated by the greater degree of separation between the temperature and the dew point profile. This greater degree of space between the temperature and dew point profiles was due to the sinking of warm air within the eye of what was a Category 5 Hurricane Maria at the time. Thus, this image illustrates a classic eye sounding within a majestic Category 5 hurricane.
To learn more about other high-impact tropical cyclone events from around the world, be sure to click here!
©2017 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
Hurricane Maria has undergone a rapid intensification and has become a powerful category 5 hurricane. As of the 9:00 PM EST update, Maria has maximum sustained winds of 160 mph with higher gusts. Maria also has a minimum pressure of 924 mb, which means Maria is very intense. Hurricane warnings are in effect for Guadeloupe, Dominica, the U.S. Virginia Islands, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and St. Kitts. A tropical storm warning is in effect for, already battered, Antigua and Barbuda. Additional watches and warnings may be issued in the coming days so the rest of the Caribbean Islands should monitor this storm closely. Storm surge, heavy rainfall and high swells will be life-threatening along the path of Maria. Maria is expected to make a turn to the north after impacting the Dominican Republic. Through the next 5 days, Hurricane Maria is expected to remain a major hurricane. The question still remains how close to U.S shore will Maria be. The entire East Coast needs to be monitoring Hurricane Maria this week. Hurricane Maria is supposed to impact the Leeward Islands tonight into tomorrow and hit Puerto Rico early Wednesday morning. By Thursday evening, Maria is expected to impact the Dominican Republic before making a northward turn.
Be sure to check back for updates here!
ⓒ 2017 Meteorologist Brandie Cantrell
Discussion: At 3:35 pm EDT, Hurricane Irma made its second landfall at Marco Island, Florida as a Category 3 hurricane. Hurricane Irma had a minimum central pressure of 940mb. The maximum sustained winds were recorded at 115 mph. Hurricane Irma made its first landfall at Cudjoe Key in the Florida Keys this morning at approximately 9:10am EDT. The maximum sustained winds of Irma were recorded at 130 mph which correlates to a Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale and the minimum central pressure was recorded at 929mb.
As of the 5pm EDT update from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Irma is 5 miles N of Naples, Florida and 30 miles SSE of Ft. Myers, Florida. Irma is moving to the north at 14mph. The National Hurricane Center has downgraded this storm to a category 2 hurricane as of 5pm EDT with maximum sustained winds of 110mph. The dangers aren’t over however, as Irma moves through the state. Hurricane and tropical storm force winds will continue along with heavy rain, tornadoes, and storm surge in the coastal areas. It is important to heed the warnings from the local officials in the area and stay safe!
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©2017 Meteorologist Shannon Scully
UPDATE: As hurricane Irma continues to track over the open waters south of Florida, intensification will be explosive. Intense convection continues to develop around the eye-wall and around Irma meaning strengthening is underway which was expected via the latest model guidance. By tomorrow morning, Irma will likely be a dangerous category 4 storm once more as she barrels towards Florida. An infrared image of a much healthier looking Irma is shown above.
Current conditions in the Florida Keys are shown in the latest METAR from Key West International Airport.
KEYW 100253Z AUTO 03035G57KT 1 3/4SM RA SCT017 OVC025 A2929 RMK AO2 PK WND 03057/0156 SLP920 P0020 60075 58010 $
As you can see, winds are picking up (gusting to 57 knots), moderate rain is falling, with the worst yet to come. A scary night is on the way for hopefully very few people across the Keys, with the focus shifting to much of Florida on Sunday. The only hope is that residents have evacuated the area if told to do so as this life-threatening situation develops. This storm is the real deal as verified by various social media videos of islands in the Atlantic that have been decimated by Irma.
Please listen to your local National Weather Service offices for the latest warnings/watches, read the public discussions and continue to follow GWCC for the latest on this event before conditions deteriorate. There is still time to act in portions of the Florida Peninsula, do not second guess a storm of this magnitude and history.
Click here for tropical updates on Irma, Jose, and other tropical cyclones this season.
©Weather Forecaster Joe DeLizio
DISCUSSION: Impacts of Hurricane Irma are already beginning to be felt in the Florida Keys. The graphic above shows the forecast rainfall amounts over the next 5 days associated with the storm. Compared to Hurricane Harvey in Texas, these rainfall amounts seem mild with maximum amounts "only" up to 20 inches over extreme south Florida. These smaller rainfall amounts expected from Irma are due to the expectation of Irma not lingering over south Florida like Harvey did over Houston. Nevertheless, several inches of rain over a short amount of time can quickly cause life threatening flooding. In addition to heavy rainfall and associated flooding, Irma has the potential to bring high winds and dangerous storm surge (in some areas greater than 9 feet above ground) over a large stretch of the southern and western Florida coast even up to the panhandle of that state. In summary, Irma is a very dangerous storm and will be bringing multiple hazards to much of the Florida peninsula over the next several days. If you are still in the path of this storm, especially if you are in flood-prone area, it is strongly encouraged for you to evacuate if you are able.
To learn more about other interesting tropical cyclone-related stories from around the world, be sure to click here!
©2017 Meteorologist Dr. Ken Leppert II