Busiest Month: Dangerous Hurricanes May Hit the US in October
In late September, while the peak hurricane season in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans is still ongoing, the oceans themselves are eerily quiet. But it won't last long, writes The Washington Post.
Calm oceans across the globe began on Friday, September 25, when tropical storms Beta and Teddy cleared. It looks like the situation will change by the second week of October when tropical activity resumes.
This is already a record season: the Atlantic switched to the Greek alphabet after the list of conventional storm names was exhausted, for only the second time in the entire history of observations. This year's violent hurricane season is marked by the earliest sightings of storms on record, with the letters C, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T and W. and it is also the fastest season ever to require the use of letters of the Greek alphabet. The next storm will be called Gamma.
While the vast majority of systems this year have been fast and rather weak, some - like Laura, Sally, and Isaias - have been more destructive. And history teaches Americans never to lose their vigilance in October.
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Beware of October
October is the month in which many of the most notorious weather events in the United States occurred, including 5's Category 2018 Hurricane Michael. Wilma in October 2005 remains the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic in terms of air pressure. Other systems, such as Mitch in 1998, Opal in 1995, and Hazel in 1954, have also left their mark.
During October, wind shear - the change in wind speed and / or direction with height - begins to intensify over the Central and East Atlantic. This can tear the weather system apart before it develops. However, in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, water temperatures are close to their warmest and wind shear remains close to minimum.
For states like Florida, October is the most dangerous month in terms of the likelihood of hurricanes. Of the 112 recorded hurricanes that have struck the state since 1950, 38 occurred in October.
October also sees the advancement of jet airflow southward as cold air begins to rise over Canada. This can contribute to intense transitions to extratropical zones, as the remnants of hurricanes hit the north. This was the reason for Hurricane Sandy's activity in the Mid Atlantic in late October 2012.
By about October 10, the upward movement of air will cover the western Atlantic and facilitate the organization of thunderstorms and the maturation of the tropical system if it develops.
At the same time, the Madden-Julian Oscillation, or MJO - a similar circulation that crosses the tropics once a month or two - could also enter a state that would intensify storms and rains in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
It's worth noting that while some cooler waters remain in the northern Gulf of Mexico after being lifted by Hurricane Sully, much of the Gulf and the entire Caribbean is still much warmer than usual. Thermal energy is enough to cause a hurricane if the weather system forms.
For now, the US may still enjoy a respite from tropical storms this week. But by the coming weekend, forecasters will be watching a weather system that is trying to organize in the northwest Caribbean. The next active period is expected to start from 7-10 October. There are indications that the increased activity could last until the end of October.
One system at the ready
Computer models show that the weather system may begin to form in early October in the western Caribbean. The conditions surrounding this place can create a favorable environment for the development of the system, although confidence in this is low.
In the short term, the Yucatan Peninsula may experience heavy rainfall before moving north or northwest into Campeche Bay in the southwest of the Gulf of Mexico.
The National Hurricane Center lists a 30 percent chance that the system will develop into a tropical depression - a harbinger of a tropical storm - in the next 5 days, compared with a 20 percent chance that was discussed on the evening of September 27. While the probabilities may seem low, they only cover the period until Saturday, October 2. Longer term prospects may show other probabilities.
Historically, the western Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico have always been areas to watch closely at this time of year. In the fall, activity tends to decrease in the main Atlantic region or between Africa and the Lesser Antilles, while the threat of "local" storms increases closer to the US coastline. And these are the very systems that are often more difficult to predict as they mature closer to land and are more difficult to detect from a distance.
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