With the formation of Tropical Storm Vicky this morning, we now have a record-tying five storms in the Atlantic, and there may be another one coming soon.
The most immediate threat to the US is Tropical Storm Sally. Sally continues to slowly strengthen in the Gulf of Mexico. As of late Monday morning, Sally was centered about 185 miles southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi, moving toward the west-northwest at 6 mph. Maximum sustained winds were near 65 mph.
Sally is expected to track northwestward across the northern Gulf of Mexico while strengthening later today into Tuesday. It will likely become a hurricane by tonight. Current forecasts call for landfall in either southeastern Louisiana or southern Mississippi on Tuesday. Hurricane and Storm Surge Warnings are in effect for much of the region. The location of landfall will have a significant impact on what conditions occur in some locations, namely storm surge. The highest storm surge is usually found near and to the right of where the center makes landfall. A landfall in southeastern Louisiana brings that storm surge to parts of the Louisiana coast and into Mississippi and Alabama. A track a bit farther east spares Louisiana from significant surge, but increases the threat to Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of the Florida Panhandle.
While storm surge and strong winds are significant threats, rainfall will be the most significant issue residents of the Gulf Coast need to prepare for. Sally will be a slow-mover, and could even stall out near or just after landfall. We’ve seen plenty of slow-moving tropical systems dump torrential rainfall on places in recent years, and this system will likely do the same. Rainfall totals of 15-25 inches and possibly heavier will create widespread significant flooding. The heavy rain will also spread well inland, with flooding possible into parts of the Tennessee Valley later this week.
While Tropical Storm Sally is a threat to land, Hurricane Paulette impacted land earlier this morning, when it moved directly across the island of Bermuda. Paulette was centered about 65 miles north of Bermuda late this morning, moving toward the north at 14 mph. It has maximum sustained winds near 100 mph, and some additional strengthening is likely over the day or so as it turns more toward the northeast. Paulette is expected to head out into the open Atlantic over the next several days, presenting no additional threat to land.
In the central Atlantic, Tropical Depression Rene remains weak late this morning. It is centered about 1100 miles northeast of the Lesser Antilles, and maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 30 mph. Rene is expected to dissipate over open water in the next day or two.
Heading further eastward, we have Tropical Storm Teddy. As of late this morning, Teddy was centered about halfway between the Lesser Antilles and the Cabo Verde Islands. Maximum sustained winds were at 40 mph, and additional strengthening is likely. Teddy could become a hurricane by late Tuesday or Wednesday, and could strengthen into a rather potent storm by later this week. A turn toward the northwest should keep Teddy over open water, though residents of Bermuda should keep an eye on this storm, as it could present a threat to the island by late this weekend or early next week.
Even farther to the east, Tropical Storm Vicky developed this morning. As of late morning, Vicky was centered about 350 miles west-northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands, moving toward the northwest at 6 mph. Maximum sustained winds were near 45 mph. Vicky is expected to turn more toward the west over the next day or two while slowly weakening. It will likely dissipate over open water later this week.
With the formation of Vicky, we now have 5 named storms in the Atlantic. This ties the record for the most named storms at once, originally set between September 11-14, 1971. During September 11-12, 1971, there was also a short-lived tropical depression in the Atlantic, so we had 6 active tropical cyclones, a record that still has not been broken.
As if five storms wasn’t enough. Another tropical wave moved off the coast of West Africa today. Conditions may be favorable for some development over the next few days as it heads westward into the Atlantic.