Early Tropical Storms Alarm Forecasters: Is Florida at Risk
Early tropical Storms alarm forecasters: Is Florida at risk? Tropical waves originating from Africa often dissipate before gaining strength, but this year is different. Unprecedented warmth in the eastern Atlantic has set the stage for the early formation of tropical cyclones. With water temperatures soaring and wind patterns favoring storm development, the region’s typical tranquil June has given way to an unexpected flurry of tropical activity.
Unusually Warm Waters: Water temperatures in the eastern Atlantic, stretching from Africa to the Caribbean, are running two to four degrees above normal. This warming trend resembles what is typically observed in August, signaling an early arrival of favorable conditions for tropical cyclones. The warm waters serve as the primary fuel for storm formation, presenting an ideal environment for tropical systems to intensify.
Early Storm Development: Two systems have already emerged in the Atlantic as a result of these balmy waters. Tropical Storm Bret formed in the central Atlantic, swiftly followed by another system expected to develop further. Forecasts indicate that Bret may strengthen into a hurricane by the end of the week. The emergence of these systems in the eastern Atlantic in June is highly unusual, catching forecasters off guard.
Less Saharan Dust and Weaker Trade Winds: In recent months, weaker-than-normal trade winds across the tropical Atlantic have prevented sea surface temperatures from cooling down. Additionally, the subdued winds have led to reduced amounts of Saharan dust, which normally inhibits storm activity. These factors have contributed to the sustained warmth in the Atlantic and allowed for increased storm formation potential.
Unprecedented Conditions: Visual evidence from sea surface temperature maps reveals plumes of warm water extending from the North Atlantic to Africa. While forecasters typically start closely monitoring the eastern Atlantic and African waves in August, this year’s conditions have warranted early attention. The region already meets the sea surface temperature threshold required for tropical cyclone development, a milestone usually reached later in the season.
Ingredients for Tropical Systems: The main components necessary for tropical systems to thrive include warm waters, low wind shear, and high atmospheric moisture. Currently, Tropical Storm Bret finds itself amidst the perfect combination of these elements, spinning into a hurricane’s paradise. With the Atlantic remaining warm, wind shear at a minimum, and abundant moisture available, the storm has an ideal environment to strengthen.
Early Season Anomalies: Historically, only three named storms have formed in this part of the tropical Atlantic in June, the most recent being in 2017, also named Bret. The unusual early activity raises uncertainties about the rest of the hurricane season. Although federal forecasters predict a near-normal season, the influence of warm sea surface temperatures and the potential strengthening of El Niño complicate the outlook.
Unpredictable Season Outlook: While warm sea surface temperatures fuel storm development, the presence of El Niño tends to suppress Atlantic activity. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently announced the arrival of El Niño, a climate pattern that is expected to intensify in the coming months. The interplay between favorable Atlantic conditions and an anticipated El Niño season leaves forecasters uncertain about the course of this year’s hurricane activity.
The Atlantic has defied expectations this June with the early formation of tropical systems driven by warm waters and favorable atmospheric conditions. As the season progresses, the interplay between warm sea surface temperatures and the strengthening El Niño will continue to shape the path and intensity of storms. The uncertainty surrounding this season’s outlook serves as a reminder to remain vigilant and prepared throughout the hurricane-prone months ahead. TBT