WEATHER NEWS: Hurricane season isn’t over yet. Here are three new systems to watch.
Atlantic hurricane season historically peaks in September, but October can be a sneakily perilous month. Despite a quiet few weeks since the demise of Ian in late September, the season’s far from over — and meteorologists are tracking three more disturbances with varying potential for development.
One is currently located near Bermuda, and flirted with the idea of becoming a brief tropical depression. Another is centered well to its south, while a third — perhaps the most intriguing at this point — could enter the eastern Caribbean this weekend.
The season to date has featured 11 named storms, including five hurricanes. Despite the flurry of storminess, the season has technically been below average for activity. That’s according to a metric called ACE, or Accumulated Cyclone Energy, which attempts to quantify how much cumulative energy storms expend on their strong winds.
At present, the season has racked up 84.1 ACE units, meaning we’re still about 25 percent below the benchmark for what’s average. Roughly half of this season’s ACE was churned through by just two storms — Ian and Fiona — which both spent time as Category 4 storms roaming the ocean basin.
Officially, hurricane season doesn’t end until Nov. 30, and the trio of systems discussed below exemplify why it’s too soon to stop monitoring the tropical Atlantic.
System No. 1: Swirl near Bermuda
The first area to watch is a small swirl of clouds just north-northwest of Bermuda. Initially it had sprouted a couple of showers and thunderstorms, but most disintegrated since. It was once believed that any showers and thunderstorms that formed near its center would vertically stretch the axis of near-surface spin and allow a tropical depression to brew. Now, however, disruptive wind shear, or a change of wind speed and/or direction with height, is working against it.
With a mature hurricane, wind shear can play a game of atmospheric tug-of-war that knocks a storm off kilter. For a storm still working to develop, it’s like aiming a leaf blower at a spinning top.
As such, it’s unlikely the Bermuda swirl will become better organized. The island may see an isolated shower or some breezy winds on Tuesday, but otherwise the system is working north-northwest and will likely become shredded by strengthening upper-level winds in the next day or two.
System No. 2: Southwestern Atlantic
A low pressure system is expected to form midway between Hispaniola and Bermuda sometime Thursday or Friday. It will initially be just a broad, open wave of low pressure with a scattering of thunderstorms embedded within it, but there’s a chance that it could consolidate. If that does happen, it would do so likely near or west of Bermuda before swinging east after getting caught up in the path of an approaching cold front. The key time frame to watch would be Saturday through Monday.
The National Hurricane Center estimates a 30 percent chance of eventual development.
System No. 3: Eastern Caribbean
This system — a disorganized group of showers and thunderstorms about 700 miles east of the Windward Islands — is potentially of greatest concern, but it’s unclear whether it will materialize.
Some weather models hint that some of the showers and storms will skim along the northeastern coast of South America before emerging in the extreme southeastern Caribbean. If they do so, they would encounter an environment favorable for intensification, with gentle upper-level winds and exceptionally warm ocean temperatures. However, other models suggest the thunderstorms are more likely to move over land in northern South America — where they wouldn’t be able to organize.
The National Hurricane Center estimates a 20 percent chance of development in the next five days, but those odds could grow. The system won’t even move into the southeastern Caribbean until the late Thursday or Friday time frame.