As Tropical Storm Arthur moves down the American coast, forecasters fear it will only be the first piece of dominoes in a hurricane season that could be a reflection of the worst ever. And all this in times of coronavirus.
Arthur became the first storm of 2020 It received a name when it reached the category of tropical storm during the weekend. At 11 a.m., New York time, it passed near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, with winds of 80 kilometers per hour and heavy rain. The storm is forecast to quickly turn east to the Atlantic, according to the National Hurricane Center.
This is the sixth consecutive year that a named storm has anticipated June 1, the formal start of the hurricane season, said Jim Foerster, chief meteorologist at meteorological consultancy DTN, which provides weather data to sectors of energy, agriculture and industry. While early storms increase a season’s overall numbers, are not indicative of ferocity of what will happen deep in the Atlantic during the height of the season.
This year, scientists they see threatening signs with conditions similar to those of 2005, when there was a record of 28 storms in the Atlantic, including Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans, causing 1,800 deaths.
“All the pieces of the puzzle are in place, no matter how you look at it”Jim Rouiller, chief meteorologist for The Energy Weather Group, said by phone. “It gives me more confidence than usual that this year will be the same as a hyperactive hurricane season, and that was 2005.”
The exceptionally warm waters of the Atlantic can intensify the 2020 hurricane season. While 2020 may not produce as many storms, the boreal summer and fall could resemble that record year, Rouiller explained.
There are other signs that scientists are also watching for. In the Pacific, the phenomenon known as El Niño is formed when a wide strip of warm water Along the equator it raises atmospheric temperatures around the world, causing rainfall in some areas, drought in others, and severe wind shear that destroys storms in parts of the Atlantic.
The odds of an event like this are slim this year, as the rising volumes of fresh water from the depths so far keep the climate neutral, in conditions similar to those seen in 2005. The failure of El Niño – or the development of its opposite system, La Niña – means that there will be no wind shear at a time when climate change is increasingly pushing Atlantic temperatures to record highs.
Tropical cyclones are born from and feed on warm water. Throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico there are “a huge volume of high octane fuel awaiting the hurricane season ”Rouiller said in a phone interview.
Two other indicators that scientists are watching closely have the potential to intensify storms.
The first is a riot of clouds, rains, winds, and pressure moving east. and it is called the Madden-Julian Oscillation, according to Rouiller. This year, the oscillation is likely to send a series of strong impulses of atmospheric energy across the Atlantic during the height of the hurricane season, unleashing a host of storms, he added.
Brazil and Africa
The second is the accumulation of warm water in a wide swath between Brazil and Africa, according to Ryan Truchelut of Weather Tiger, a forecasting trading company in Tallahassee, Florida.
Water from that strip could well migrate north in the coming months, Truchelut said, adding more heat to the area between the Caribbean and Cape Verde, where some of the most destructive storms in history have formed.
The early start of the season with Tropical Storm Arthur is also concerning. Hurricane season start dates are based on long-term averages, but climate change allows conditions conducive to tropical storms arriving earlier –And stay longer- in the calendar year.
“With climate change, we see these traditional patterns change from before,” Foerster of DTN said by phone.
And all this comes after the coronavirus crisis, when the world is paralyzed or slowly going back to work. Companies in vulnerable areas – from the Gulf of Mexico coast to the entire east coast – should be preparing at this time, said Katherine Klosowski, vice president of FM Global, an industrial insurer.
“In the depths of my mind, this idea rings out: Mother Nature is an entity that did not receive the order to stay home “said Klosowski, responsible for natural hazards and structural engineering at his company.
Rouiller also says that what worries him most is the prolongation or return of the coronavirus pandemic. when the hurricane season peaks between late August and early October. Although people may be afraid to end up in close proximity to other people in shelters, they should still go, he said.
“The point here is that you are much more likely to end up dead in a hurricane than by the threat of the virus,” said Rouiller.
AccuWeather Inc., meanwhile, predicts that 18 storms could reach the strength of a tropical storm and receive a name, a figure well above twelve, the average of thirty years. Michael Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University, and colleagues postulated last week that there will be between 15 and 24 Atlantic storms if La Niña forms and probably 19 without it.
“I see very few who are now posing low numbers,” said Dan Kottlowski, AccuWeather Tropical Meteorologist.
Brian K. Sullivan. Bloomberg