New tropical hotspot may emerge in Atlantic amid busy hurricane season start

Two tropical storms have already formed prior to the official start of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on June 1- and AccuWeather meteorologists say there are two factors behind the unusual occurrence. These weather factors could soon cause more storms to brew, but this time, forecasters are watching a new tropical hotspot of the basin.

Tropical Storm Arthur, the first storm of the season, was named by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) on May 16, the earliest-named tropical system to form in the Atlantic since Tropical Storm Arlene in April 2017. The system first developed into a tropical depression about 125 miles off Melbourne, Florida. As the disturbance gained strength and moved northward over warm waters in the western Atlantic, Arthur avoided landfall in North Carolina. But, the system still unleashed wind gusts of up to 49 mph in the state. Fortunately, no major impacts were reported, and Arthur went out to sea before it could directly strike land.

Less than two weeks later, Tropical Storm Bertha became the second-named storm of the season on May 27 in a similar area to where Arthur had developed. Bertha will also go down as the first-named storm to make landfall in the U.S. this year. Bertha struck about 20 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday, and unleashed flooding rainfall across the Carolinas and portions of the mid-Atlantic. Before officially being named the system drenched South Florida with flooding rainfall, which pushed monthly rain totals to more than two times the normal amount for May in places like Miami.

The last time two named storms preceded the official start of hurricane season in the Atlantic was in 2016, when Hurricane Alex and Tropical Storm Bonnie both formed before June 1.

This GOES-16 satellite image taken Wednesday, May 27, 2020, at 11:40 UTC and provided by THE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Tropical Storm Bertha approaching the South Carolina coast. (NOAA via AP)

“You get early season development when you get an interaction between the jet stream and the tropics,” AccuWeather Chief Broadcast Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said. “It’s still early enough in the year that, at times, the jet stream can take pronounced dips into the south.”

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