Weather Woes in the Tropics

A look into the Historic Hurricane season as of Mid-September

~Joshua Grimes, News Editor~

Over the last nine months, the year in general has proven to be one of the most historic and one of the most odd years of our lives. So far in the year, we lost many celebrities and important figures; we are in the midst of a pandemic, not seen in less than 100 years; we are in the midst of an economic crisis as a result of the pandemic; we are in the presidential election season; we had a crazy summer focusing on systematic racism in the United States, and the weather have been nothing but historic. Up through the end of the year, the plan is to take a look back at this historic year in little chunks, since there’s a whole lot to cover. 

To start, our attention turns to the weather. This year, the weather brought the normal natural disasters, odd phenomenons, and rare events. At some point these records were mentioned on television. In order to look back at the historic weather events that have occurred, we must begin with what’s going on in the tropics right now, since we’re in the middle of the hurricane season which have broken all kinds of records. 

For those who don’t know, hurricane season runs from the first of June through Nov. 30. Before the season gets rolling, on May 21, the national weather center, NOAA, released their prediction. They predicted at this time that the season will be the fifth consecutive above normal year with only 13 to 19 named storms. It was predicted that there would be six to ten Category 1 and 2 hurricanes, and only three to six major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher. This was a similar prediction to the season for last year.

Heavy winds whip palm trees during Hurricane Dorian in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. Photo by Charles Mostoller/Bloomberg

As the season went on the original forecast changed dramatically. It wasn’t until early August when NOAA released their final prediction of calling the season “extremely active” with 19 to 25 named tropical storms, seven to 11 hurricanes, and three to six major hurricanes resulting in the most active forecasts ever released by the weather service for the Atlantic. 

There have been times in the past when we have seen our first storm pop up before the season started. That’s how this year’s season began with Tropical Storm Arthur in mid-May and Tropical Storm Bertha about a week later. This started the historic records as these two storms became the first occurrence of two named storms in the pre-season since 2016, the first occurrence of two named storms in the month of May since 2012, and the record sixth season in a row to have pre-season activity, which began in 2015. 

As the season began, Tropical Storm Cristobal formed and became the earliest C storm to form on record. When Cristobal disappeared, the tropics were only inactive for approximately nine days before Tropical Storm Dolly formed. That takes us into July when the month was pretty active with the exception of thirteen days. 

Beginning in July all the way through now, each storm that has formed is the earliest on record for their letter. That includes Tropical Storm’s Edouward, Fay, Gonzallo; Hurricane Hanna, the first Category 1 storm of the season; Hurricane Isisas, another Category 1 storm; Tropical Storm Josphine; Tropical Storm Kyle; Hurricane Laura, the first major storm of the season at Category 4; Hurricane Marco, another Category 1 storm; Tropical Storm Omar; Hurricane Nana, another Category 1 storm; Hurricane Paulette, another Category 1 storm; Tropical Storm Rene; Hurricane Sally, the second major storm at Category 3; Hurricane Teddy, currently the third major storm at Category 4; Tropical Storm Vicky; Tropical Storm Wilfred; Subtropical Storm Alpha; and Tropical Storm Beta. There was one storm that formed into a Depression but never got a name right before we had Josphine in late July.

There weren’t just records that occurred in the season but phenomenons that turned into records.  For the first time since 2013, there was a development of seven tropical storms that failed to reach hurricane status; the month of July tying with 2005 for the most active on record with regards to named systems; when Vicky formed the Atlantic basin had five storms active at the same time for the first time since 1995; in the Gulf there was a rare event when two storms had a close track of one another and appearing in the Gulf at the same time for the first time on record; and just recently for the first time since 2005, the names of the hurricane list was all used, which resulted in the Greek alphabet being used; for the first time since 1893 on September 18 three storms formed within a timespan of six hours; and after the formation of Beta the month of September became the most active on record.  

This season isn’t done making records just yet with almost two months left. Whatever storm that gets a name will automatically become the earliest named letter in the Greek Alphabet to be used; for the first time since 1916, nine named storms, which includes Tropical Storm Beta, will hit the mainland in a single season, tying the record; and the season will end being the most active in a while with more than 25 storms having been named altogether.

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