The Peak of Hurricane Season is Here

Remember all that talk not too long ago about how quiet hurricane season had been? Well, we now have four active systems in the Atlantic, one in the eastern Pacific, and two more in the western Pacific.

The tropics are very active right now. Image provided by Brian McNoldy, University of Miami, Rosenstiel School.

We’ll start off with Hurricane Fiona, as it is the strongest one of the four and also the biggest threat. As of 5pm EDT, Fiona was centered about 370 miles south-southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, moving toward the north-northeast at 40 mph. Maximum sustained winds were near 125 mph, making Fiona a high-end Category 3 storm. Hurricane Warnings and Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for much of Atlantic Canada. An upper-level trough across the eastern US will pull Fiona a bit more toward the north later today and tonight. Fiona is expected to steadily weaken and become extratropical as it moves over cooler waters, but this is both good and bad. It’s good because it will be a weaker storm, but it’s bad because the extratropical transition means that the wind field will spread out, bringing stronger winds to a much larger area. Fiona is expected to make landfall in eastern Nova Scotia early Saturday as an extratropical system with the equivalent strength of a Category 2 hurricane. While Atlantic Canada is no stranger to powerful extratropical storms from the Fall into the Spring, this one will be much stronger than most of those storms. Widespread wind damage is likely as well as storm surge flooding near the coastline. Freshwater flooding won’t be as much of a concern as the system will be moving too quickly to drop excessive rain in many locations. Across parts of Labrador and eastern Quebec, cold air on the backside of the storm will allow the rain to change to snow, with several inches of accumulation possible in spots.

Forecast track for Hurricane Fiona. Image provided by the Canadian Hurricane Centre.

Fiona has already left a trail of destruction in its wake, and will almost certainly have its name retired after the season ends. It crossed the Lesser Antilles a week ago, producing some wind damage and flooding across Guadeloupe and nearby islands. Heavy rain and strong winds buffeted the Virgin Islands next, especially across St. Croix, but Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic were the beneficiaries of Fiona’s full fury. Torrential rainfall led to widespread severe flooding, and wind gusts in excess of 115 mph resulted in widespread damage across the region. At one point, the entire island of Puerto Rico was without power. Many locations in this region are still trying to recover from Hurricane Maria back in 2017. After leaving the Great Antilles, Fiona brought strong winds and heavy rain to parts of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the nearby southeastern Bahamas. Finally, Fiona passed just west of Bermuda late last night and early this morning. Although the core of the storm missed the island, there were still reports of wind gusts to 100 mph. Large swells from Fiona have been impacting the Eastern US for the past few days and will gradually subside through the weekend.

Radar loop of Fiona approaching and crossing Puerto Rico. Loop provided by Brian McNoldy, University of Miami, Rosenstiel School

Next up is Tropical Storm Gaston. As of 5pm EDT, Gaston was centered about 70 miles north of Faial Island in the Central Azores, moving toward the south at 9 mph. Maximum sustained winds were near 60 mph. Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect of the islands of the Western and Central Azores. Gaston is expected to turn more toward the southwest, then west over the next day or two. This will bring the center of Gaston closer to or across parts of the Azores. Gusty winds and heavy rain that could produce flooding and mudslides are expected. Steady weakening is expected, and Gaston will likely become extratropical by Sunday.

Satellite loop of Tropical Storm Gaston. Loop provided by NOAA.

Tropical Storm Hermine just formed late this afternoon in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. As of 5pm EDT, Hermine was centered about 290 miles northeast of the Cabo Verde Islands, moving toward the north-northwest at 10 mph. Maximum sustained winds were near 40 mph. Hermine’s forecast calls for a little strengthening tonight, then it’ll weaken as it moves back over cooler water, and it will likely dissipate before the weekend is over. However, it will bring some heavy rain to parts of the Canary Islands over the weekend, with rainfall totals of 2-4 inches and locally heavier possibly resulting in flooding in some spots.

Satellite loop of Tropical Storm Hermine. Loop provided by NOAA.

The last storm in the Atlantic is Tropical Depression 9. As of 5pm EDT, TD9 was centered about 430 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, moving toward the west-northwest at 15 mph. Maximum sustained winds were near 35 mph. The short-term forecast for the depression is fairly simple. It should head more toward the west tonight and Saturday while steadily strengthening. Once it reaches Tropical Storm strength it will be named Ian. A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for Jamaica, and a Hurricane Watch has been issued for the Cayman Islands. The storm should pass south of Jamaica late Saturday or early Sunday, then turn more toward the northwest and approach the Cayman Islands on Sunday as a strong tropical storm, or possibly a hurricane. It should approach western Cuba on Monday, likely as a hurricane. Heavy rain, strong winds, and storm surge are expected across western Cuba and the Cayman Islands, and to a lesser extent across Jamaica. After that, things get more complex.

Forecast track for Tropical Depression 9 through the next 3 days. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

A trough of low pressure will move into the eastern US, which should steer the system northward, and eventually northeastward. When that turn occurs is vital to the forecast. Once the storm moves into the Gulf of Mexico, it should strengthen, and could become a major hurricane, so obviously, where it heads towards becomes an important question. As you can see from the image below, the various model ensemble members do not agree on where that turn happens. Some have it miss the trough and head more toward the northwest, while the majority have it move toward western Florida or the Florida Panhandle. Beyond that, some bring it inland into the Southeast, others have it cross Florida and then become a threat to the East Coast. Some even bring it into New England or Nova Scotia (which would be really bad), and many just head out to sea once back in the Atlantic. Obviously, this is something that we won’t have a better handle on for at least a few more days, but anyone from the Central Gulf to the East Coast should keep an eye on this storm’s progress.

Ensemble forecasts for the track if Tropical Depression 9. Image provided by Tomer Burg.

There are a few other active systems in the Pacific as well. Tropical Storm Newton is expected to pull away from Socorro Island off of the Mexican coastline tonight and head out into the open waters of the eastern Pacific where it should weaken and dissipate over the next several days. In the Western Pacific, Tropical Depression Talas is expected to dissipate just off the south coast of Japan on Saturday. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Noru will become an increasing threat to the Philippines over the next few days. As of Friday evening, Noru was centered about 580 miles east-northwest of Manila, moving toward the west-southwest a 12 mph. Maximum sustained winds were near 50 mph. The forecast calls for steady strengthening, and Noru is expected to cross Luzon early Sunday as a typhoon. It should re-emerge in the South China Sea later in the day, then head westward, gathering strength early next week. It could make landfall in Vietnam by mid-week as a typhoon.

Forecast track for Tropical Storm Noru. Image provided by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration.

We’ll provide an update on TD9 in our Weekly Outlook early Monday morning, then likely do a full blog post about it later in the day on Monday.

Weekend Outlook: September 23-26, 2022

Fall has begun and fall weather is arriving right on schedule.

Cooler weather is already filtering in behind the cold front that moves through earlier today, and gusty northwest winds on Friday will result in the coolest day across the region in the past several months. High pressure will bring plenty of sunshine, but temperatures may struggle to reach 60 across parts of the area. The high slides off to the east on Saturday, allowing temperatures to moderate a bit, but it will remain breezy. Sunday may start off with some sunshine, but clouds will quickly move in as the next system moves toward the area. Some showers are possible Sunday evening into Monday morning, but most of the daylight hours on Sunday should be dry. Most of Monday looks dry too, with the rain ending in the morning, then some sunshine may develop in the afternoon.

Saturday morning will feature wind chills in the 30s. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Fiona will remain a powerful storm in the Atlantic. It’ll pass west of Bermuda tonight, then start to weaken and become extratropical as it heads northward toward eastern Nova Scotia. When it moves inland late Saturday or early Sunday, it will be an incredibly strong storm, bringing strong winds and heavy rain to most of eastern Canada. Hurricane and Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for most of Atlantic Canada, and a High Wind Watch is in effect across eastern Maine. Around here, we may see some of the clouds on the western edge of the storm, but the bigger impact will be rough seas and large waves impacting the coast. A High Surf Advisory is in effect along the coast, with a Gale Warning for the coastal waters. Conditions should start to improve on Sunday as the storm moves into eastern Canada.

Forecast track for Hurricane Fiona. Image provided by the Canadian Hurricane Centre.

Thursday night: Clear to partly cloudy. Low 42-49.

Friday: Mostly sunny and windy. High 53-60.

Friday night: Clear skies, breezy. Low 40-47.

Saturday: Sunny and breezy. High 62-69.

Saturday night: Becoming partly cloudy. Low 42-49.

Sunday: Some morning sun, then becoming mostly cloudy, a few showers possible late in the day. High 65-72.

Sunday night: Mostly cloudy with some showers around. Low 53-60.

Monday: A few morning showers, then becoming partly sunny. High 67-74.

Weekend Outlook: September 9-12, 2022

We’ve got a fantastic late summer/early fall weekend coming up across the region.

The forecast for the next several days is actually fairly simple. High pressure will build into the region, and slowly drift eastward over the next several days. The result is sunshine each afternoon through Sunday, with temperatures gradually warming. Some of the smoke from the wildfires out West may reach our skies this weekend, resulting in hazy conditions at times. Some clouds will start to filter in on Sunday and Monday as the next low pressure system approaches the region. Some showers are possible on Monday, but it looks like most of the activity should hold off until Monday night or Tuesday.

Some of the models have rain move in on Monday, several others keep it dry. We’re leaning toward the drier ones for now. Images provided by Pivotal Weather.

One other thing to keep in mind – Hurricane Earl will pass well south and east over the region over the next few days, but it will brush Bermuda. It will have one impact around here though – it will churn up some rough seas which will impact our coastal waters and beaches through the weekend. If you’re planning to head to the beach, there will be a high risk for rip currents, so use some caution. Offshore, small craft advisories are up for the coastal waters south and east of the Cape and Islands.

Forecast track for Hurricane Earl. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Low 51-58.

Friday: Early clouds, then becoming mostly sunny and hazy at times. High 74-81.

Friday night: Clear skies. Low 53-60.

Saturday: Hazy sunshine. High 79-86.

Sunday night: Partly cloudy. Low 58-65.

Sunday: Partly sunny, hazy. High 79-86.

Sunday night: Partly to mostly cloudy. Low 59-66.

Monday: Intervals of clouds and sun, chance for a shower. High 74-81.

The Tropics Are Alive!

There was very little tropical activity around the world during July and August, but as the calendar has flipped to September and we approach the peak of Hurricane Season (especially in the Atlantic), several storms have developed.

There are now 4 active tropical cyclones around the world. Image provided by Brian McNoldy, University of Miami, Rosenstiel School.

The storm that is the biggest threat to land is actually in the Western Pacific Ocean. Typhoon Hinnamnor is centered about 210 miles west-northwest of Okinawa, Japan, moving toward the north at 9 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 120 mph. A little additional strengthening is possible today before a weakening trend begins. The forecast for Hinnamnor is for gradual weakening as it moves northeastward over the next 24 hours. The center will pass close to or across southeastern portions of South Korea on Monday as a typhoon, with top winds still in the 100-110 mph range. Storm surge will likely be confined to just a small portion of the South Korean coastline, but that area includes the city of Busan, the 2nd most populous city in South Korea. Busan is also the 6th busiest port in the world. Heavy rain and gusty winds are likely across much of the Korean Peninsula, but also could impact parts of eastern China (near Shanghai) today, and parts of Japan over the next few days.

Forecast track for Typhoon Hinnamnor. Image provided by the Korean Meteorological Administration.

In the Atlantic, after going nearly two months without a named system, we now have twostorms to track. Tropical Storm Earl developed Saturday night east of the Lesser Antilles. As of midday Sunday, Earl was centered about 85 miles north-northeast of St. Thomas, USVI, moving toward the northwest at 3 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph. Earl is bringing some gusty winds and heavy downpours to parts of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and northern Leeward Islands today and will continue to do so into Monday as it drifts toward the northwest and eventually north. The forecast for Earl calls for a turn more toward the north on Monday, with gradual strengthening expected. Earl is expected to become a hurricane by Tuesday and could become a rather potent storm by mid-to-late week. The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center calls for Earl to eventually turn more toward the northeast, heading out over open water southeast of Bermuda. However, as is usually the case with tropical systems, this is hardly a lock. An upper-level trough of low pressure moving into the central Atlantic is expected to help turn Earl toward the northeast and out to sea. If that trough moves a little faster, Earl may not make the northeast turn, at which point, the track becomes highly uncertain. Another trough of low pressure will be moving toward the East Coast while a ridge of high pressure settles in across the western Atlantic. This could increase the threat to Bermuda before the next trough moves in and kicks Earl out to sea. If you’re wondering about whether Earl could threat the East Coast, it is highly unlikely at this point, but the odds are not zero. A few members of the various Ensemble forecasts do show a significantly more westward track to Earl, but the vast majority still show a track out to sea (or near Bermuda then out to sea).

Most of the various ensemble members show an out to sea track for Earl, but there are a few that threat Bermuda. Iage provided by Tomer Burg.

Out in the North Atlantic, Hurricane Danielle, the first hurricane of the season in the Atlantic, is strengthening this afternoon. As of midday, Danielle had maximum sustained winds near 80 mph and was centered nearly 1000 miles west of the Azores. Danielle is nearly stationary right now, but it is expected to start moving toward the northeast and then east over the next few days. Some additional strengthening is possible tonight and Monday, but after that it will start moving over cooler water, and a gradual weakening trend will begin. Danielle is expected to become extratropical later this week, and could bring heavy rain and gusty winds to parts of the British Isles as a strong extratropical system toward the end of the week.

Satellite loop of Hurricane Danielle. Loop provided by NOAA.

Finally, Tropical Depression 12-E has developed off the southwest coast of Mexico. As of midday, it was centered about 225 miles south-southwest of Acapulco, moving toward the west at 10 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph. The forecast calls for steady strengthening, and the system could become a tropical storm later today or tonight, and a hurricane early this week. A turn more toward the northwest is expected early this week, and the system could threaten parts of the Baja Peninsula toward the latter half of the week. By the end of the week, the system, or what’s left of it, could bring some heavy rainfall into parts of the Southwest and Southern California, enhancing what has already been a very active monsoon season.

Model forecasts for the track of Tropical Depression 12-E. Image provided by WeatherBell.

With the climatological peak of hurricane season in the Atlantic about a week away, and the peak of the Eastern Pacific season encompassing most of September, additional storms are likely to form over the next few weeks.

Weekend Outlook: September 2-5, 2022

Labor Day Weekend starts off with some fantastic early September weather, but it may not end that way.

High pressure builds in for tonight and Friday with generally dry and cool conditions. Clear skies and light winds will allow for radiational cooling tonight, which may allow some of the normally cooler locations to drop into the 40s. As the high slides offshore on Saturday, temperatures and humidity levels will start to rise a little bit. Sunday looks even warmer and a bit more humid, but with a cold front approaching we may see some showers and thunderstorms during the afternoon and evening. A few more showers or storms are possible on Labor Day before the front pushes offshore and stalls out. We should not that some of the forecast models are painting a rather wet picture for late Sunday and Monday. We’re not buying that at the moment. Things could obviously change, and we’ll re-evaluate that when we issue our Weekly Outlook early Monday morning, but don’t go cancelling any Labor Day plans just yet.

Some models show the potential for heavy rain late Sunday and Labor Day. We’re not buying it. Sure, there will probably be some rain, but not the outrageous amounts other models show. Image provided by Weathermodels.com

In other news, we have our first named “tropical” system in nearly two months, but it’s not exactly in the tropics. Tropical Storm Danielle is located about 950 miles west of the Azores, drifting toward the east at 2 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 60, and the forecast calls for strengthening. Danielle could become the first hurricane of the year in the Atlantic on Friday. It is not a threat to any land areas.

Forecast track for Tropical Storm Danielle. Image provided by the Canadian Hurricane Centre.

Thursday night: Clear and cool. Low 48-55.

Friday: Plenty of sunshine. High 72-79. Offshore: Northeast 5-15 knots, seas 2-3 feet.

Friday night: Becoming partly cloudy. Low 53-60.

Saturday: A mix of sun and clouds. High 78-85. Offshore: East 5-10 knots, seas 2-3 feet.

Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Low 58-65.

Sunday: Partly sunny with some showers and thunderstorms possible late in the day, mainly north of the Mass Pike. High 81-88. Offshore: South 5-10 knots, seas 2 feet, visibility 1-3 miles in showers.

Sunday night: Mostly cloudy, chance for a few showers, mainly during the evening. Low 59-66.

Monday: More clouds than sun with a chance for a few showers. High 70-77. Offshore: East 5-10 knots, seas 2-3 feet, visibility 1-3 miles in showers.

Weekly Outlook: August 8-14, 2022

The heat and humidity continue to start the week, but relief is on the way.

High pressure remains in place off the East Coast, which means heat and humidity continue into Tuesday. Temperatures likely top 90 for many areas both days, with very humid conditions likely. There is the possibility of a little relief for the coast of Maine, New Hampshire Seacoast, and possibly northeastern Massachusetts. Some models show the potential for a backdoor cold front to drop down into these areas later today and into tonight, bringing some cooler air in. The front likely doesn’t make it past Cape Ann, and should start to retreat northward before daybreak on Tuesday, but a few hours of relief are possible.

A backdoor cold front may drop temperatures into the 60s along the coast of Maine, New Hampshire and extreme northeastern Massachusetts this evening. Image provided by WeatherBell.

We’ll see some pop-up showers and thunderstorms again this afternoon, but they’ll probably be a bit more widespread on Tuesday as a cold front approaches the region. That front will stall out near or just south of the region for Wednesday into Thursday, allowing cooler air to finally move in, but it will likely remain on the humid side. A wave of low pressure will ride along the front, bringing in some showers and thunderstorms late Wednesday into Thursday. This big question is, where does the front stall out? If it’s near the South Coast, as most of the models show, then we could see some beneficial rainfall finally fall, especially south of the Mass Pike. If it stalls out offshore, then the beneficial rain may be confined to the South Coast. Recent history suggests that the latter scenario is more likely, despite the majority of the models forecasting the former, so even though our forecast is calling for showers and thunderstorms, we’re not expecting either day to be a washout.

Some beneficial rain is possible this week, but how much and where the heaviest rain falls is still up for debate. Images provided by Pivotal Weather.

The end of the week and the weekend is even trickier. Some models are showing the potential for low pressure to develop off the Mid-Atlantic or Carolina coast and head northward or northeastward, potentially having some impact here. Given the time of year, and the fact that the water off the East Coast is fairly warm, we wouldn’t be shocked if the National Hurricane Center tries to slap a name on this system if it develops, whether it truly is tropical or not. Whether the system is tropical or not (if it even develops) it appears as though we could be in a period of cool and wet weather, or the models could completely change their tune tomorrow and bring the heat and humidity back. They’ve been pretty unreliable beyond 3 days or so, so at this point, we’re going to lean toward a dry forecast, because as the old saying goes “when it drought, leave it out”. That’s why we do a Weekend Outlook on Thursday afternoons, because we’ll be 3 days closer to the weekend and should have a better idea of what is going on.

Several members of the GFS Ensemble show the potential for low pressure off the East Coast next Saturday, Image provided by Weathermodels.com

Speaking of the tropics, it appears as though the Atlantic is starting to awaken, right on time. It’s been 5 weeks since we had “Tropical Storm Colin” (which was really just a big thunderstorm near the Carolina coast, but we digress), and June/July are usually fairly quiet. Activity usually starts to ramp up in August, with the peak of the season coming around September 10. Tropical waves have been rolling off the coast of Africa every few days for the past few weeks, but none of them have amounted to much, as Saharan dust has been inhibiting the thunderstorm development. That appears to be changing. A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on Sunday, and even though it is disorganized right now, conditions will be favorable for development over the next few days. As it moves across the Atlantic, it could become a tropical depression toward the middle of this week. If it does develop, chances are that it probably wouldn’t be a strong storm, and it may never be a threat to land. No matter what, we’ll be paying attention and following closely.

We’re keeping our eyes on a system in the eastern Atlantic. Image provided by HurricaneIntel.com

Monday: Partly to mostly sunny, breezy, showers and thunderstorms develop in the afternoon. High 90-97.

Monday night: Partly cloudy. Low 72-79, possibly cooler along the coast from Cape Ann northward.

Tuesday: Some morning sun, then increasing clouds with showers and thunderstorms likely in the afternoon. High 91-98.

Tuesday night: Partly to mostly cloudy, showers and storms taper off in the evening. Low 64-71.

Wednesday: Plenty of clouds and much cooler with more showers possible during the afternoon and at night. High 76-83.

Thursday: Clouds and some sunny breaks with more showers possible, especially in the morning. High 75-82.

Friday: A mix of sun and clouds. High 74-81.

Saturday: Partly sunny. High 73-80.

Sunday: A mix of sun and clouds. High 75-82.

Weekend Outlook: June 3-6, 2022

The first weekend of meteorological summer has arrived, and although it won’t feel like summer on Friday, the rest of the weekend should. Meanwhile, the first tropical system of the season is expected to impact Florida.

Moderate drought conditions are developing across parts of southeastern New England. Image provided by the National Drought Mitigation Center.

An area of showers will move across the region tonight, ending towards midday Friday. This is good news, because we really need the rain, as drought conditions are developing across the region. Clouds will hang tough for most of the afternoon, keeping temperatures on the cool side for one more day, but some breaks if sunshine may develop in the afternoon. Skies clear out Friday night, but a cold front will move across the region on Saturday. It will generate some additional clouds, but only a sprinkle or two is expected. After that, high pressure builds in for Sunday and Monday with dry and seasonably warm conditions.

Potential Tropical Cyclone One will impact parts of Cuba, Florida, and the Bahamas on Friday and Saturday. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Meanwhile, it appears as though the first tropical system of the season is developing in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. Potential Tropical Cyclone One was centered about 80 miles north-northwest of Cozumel, Mexico this evening, moving toward the north at 5 mph. The system still had a broad circulation, and conditions aren’t that favorable for development, but many of the models do insist that it will develop into a tropical depression and eventually Tropical Storm Alex over the next 12-24 hours. As a result, tropical storm watches have been issued for parts of western Cuba, central and southern Florida, and the northwestern Bahamas. The system should head northeastward, crossing Florida on Saturday. Gusty winds and a minor storm surge will be threats with this system, but the main threat, whether it develops or not, is heavy rainfall. Rainfall totals of 5-10 inches and heavier are likely across western Cuba, southern Florida and the northwestern Bahamas over the next few days, leading to flooding in many areas. Across central Florida, rainfall totals of 2-6 inches will likely produce flooding as well. We’ll likely post an updated blog on just this system on Friday if it does develop.

Heavy rain will produce flooding across southern Florida and the Bahamas this weekend. Image provided by Weathermodels.com

Thursday night: Cloudy with showers likely. Low 50-57.

Friday: Showers end in the morning, some sunny breaks develop during the afternoon. High 64-71, a little cooler near the coast.

Friday night: Gradual clearing. Low 51-58.

Saturday: Sunshine and a few clouds, very slight chance for a sprinkle. High 72-79.

Saturday night: Clear skies. Low 48-55.

Sunday: Mostly sunny. High 70-77.

Sunday night: Mostly clear. Low 49-56.

Monday: Sunshine and some afternoon clouds. High 71-78.

Hurricane Season is Here

For the first time since 2014, we made it to the official start of Hurricane Season without having a named storm already develop.

Satellite photo for each of the 21 named storms that developed during the 2021 Hurricane Season, Image provided by NOAA.

2021 featured another very active season, with a total of 21 named storms (we’re still skeptical on at least a few of them), making it the 3rd most active storm on record. Only one storm, Ida, had its name retired. Ida slammed into Louisiana as a Category 4 storm, inflicting more than $60 Billion in damage and resulting in 55 deaths. Here in New England, we had 2 tropical storms make landfall last season. Both Elsa and Henri each made landfall near Westerly, Rhode Island about 6 weeks apart. This is just the 5th time since 1851 that two tropical systems made landfall in Southern New England or Long Island in the same year, and only the 2nd time (1961 being the other), that both storms were only tropical storm strength. (We’ll have more info on New England tropical systems a little later in this post)

2021 was another very active hurricane season. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

It looks like another active season is expected this year. NOAA issued their seasonal hurricane outlook on May 24, and it calls for a 65 percent chance for an above normal season, a 25 percent chance for a normal season, and a 10 percent chance for a below normal season. Many of the other hurricane outlooks issued by various outlets are also expecting a busy season, due to a number of factors. An average season consists of 14.4 named storms, of which 7.2 become hurricanes and 3.2 become major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale). NOAA’s forecast for this season calls for 13-20 named storms, 6-10 hurricanes, and 3-5 major hurricanes. The Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State, the first group to forecast how active a hurricane season would be, originally led by Dr. Bill Gray, will issue their updated forecast on June 2. Their initial forecast from April called for 19 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. They also pegged the chance at a storm making landfall in the United States at 71% (52% is the average in any given year), and the odds of a storm making landfall along the East Coast at 47% (31% is the average). The last 7 seasons have all featured above normal activity across the Atlantic.

List of names for storms that form during the 2022 Hurricane Season. Image provided by NOAA.

Despite the early start for the past several years, the average date for the first named storm in the Atlantic is still June 20, and the average date for the first hurricane is August 11. Over 97% of all named storms in the Atlantic form between June 1 and November 30. Most early season storms tend to be on the weaker side. A hurricane hasn’t made landfall in the United States before July 1 since Hurricane Bonnie came ashore as a minimal hurricane near the Texas/Louisiana border on June 26, 1986.

Based on climatology, the most likely spots for an early season storm are in the Gulf of Mexico or northwest Caribbean. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

A busy season does not always mean that multiple storms (or any storms for that matter) will impact the United States, though 2020 saw much of the Gulf Coast and East Coast threatened by tropical systems. In 2010, 19 named storms were observed in the Atlantic, 12 of them became hurricanes, and 5 were major hurricanes. Only one storm made landfall in the United States, and that was Bonnie, which was a minimal tropical storm at landfall. In 1990, there were a total 14 named storms, 8 of them hurricanes and 1 major hurricane. Not a single one of them made landfall in the United States. On the flip side, an inactive year doesn’t mean much for landfall probabilities as well. Only 7 named storms formed in 1992, and the 1st one didn’t develop until August 16. That storm, however, was named Andrew, and it made landfall just south of Miami as a category 5 storm. It only takes one storm to ruin your entire year.

Here in New England, we should always pay attention when a storm is nearing the Bahamas, as those are the ones that have the potential to impact us, and we are very overdue for a hurricane to head this way. Using data back to 1851, here are some stats that show how overdue we are:

  • Since 1851, 39 storms of tropical storm strength of greater have made landfall in New England or Long Island, an average of one every 4.4 years. The longest we’ve ever gone without one is 11 years, between 1897 and 1908 and also between 1923 and 1934. Last year, we had two tropical storms (Elsa and Henri) make landfall in the region.
  • Since 1851, 32 strong tropical storms (maximum sustained winds of 60 mph or more) have made landfall in New England or Long Island, an average of one every 5.3 years. The longest we’ve ever gone without one is 19 years, between 1897 and 1916. Last year, we had two strong tropical storms (Elsa and Henri) make landfall in the region.
  • Since 1851, a hurricane has made landfall in New England or Long Island 18 times, an average of one every 9.5 years. The longest we’ve ever gone between hurricane landfalls is 38 years, between 1896 and 1934. It’s been 31 years since Bob, our 2nd longest drought on record.
  • Since 1851, 8 hurricanes of Category 2 intensity or stronger have made landfall in New England or Long Island, an average of one every 21.4 years. The longest we’ve gone between hits by storms of that intensity is 69 years, between 1869 and 1938. We’re at 31 years since Bob, the last one to do so.
  • Since 1851, New England/Long Island has had 3 Major Hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) make landfall – an unnamed storm in October of 1869, the infamous 1938 Long Island Express, and Hurricane Carol in 1954. That’s an average of 1 every 57 years, and the longest time between 2 major hurricanes is 69 years (1869-1938). We’re at 67 years since Carol. There are also 3 documented storms from before 1851 – The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635, the 1815 New England Hurricane, and the Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane of 1821. That’s it. That changes the numbers to 6 in 387 years, or one every 64.5 years, with a longest drought of 180 years.
Satellite photo of Hurricane Bob approaching New England. Bob was the last hurricane to make landfall in New England – 27 years ago. Image provided by NOAA.

We all saw what Sandy did in 2012, and that was a minimal hurricane that eventually made landfall in southern New Jersey (technically as an extratropical storm). When (not if) the next big storm comes up the coast, much of this region will not be prepared for the storm or its aftermath.

The Atlantic is quiet right now (more on that in a moment), but even if something were to form off the East Coast in the next few weeks and head this way, the waters off of New England are much too cold to sustain a tropical system, so we’d see something more like a typical nor’easter. Only two tropical storms have ever made landfall in the Northeast before the end of June. The first was an unnamed minimal tropical storm that crossed extreme eastern Long Island and went into southeastern Connecticut on May 30, 1908. The other was Tropical Storm Agnes, which made landfall near New York City on June 22, 1972, then caused devastating flooding across parts of the Mid-Atlantic states. In terms of hurricanes, the earliest one to ever make landfall up this way was Hurricane Belle, which slammed into Long Island with 90 mph winds on August 9, 1976. We did have Hurricane Arthur pass just offshore of Nantucket on July 4, 2014. While it did not make landfall, it made for a rather wet and cool holiday, especially across Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts. Statistically, the most likely time for a hurricane to hit New England is between the middle of August and late September. Of the 18 hurricanes that made landfall in New England or Long Island since 1851, 15 of them have done so between August 19 and September 27.

The most likely time for a tropical system to impact our area is August of September. Image provided by the National Weather Service office in Norton, MA.

As always, you should get your weather information from a trusted source, especially when dealing with tropical systems. Much like with snowstorms in the winter, there will be plenty of hype and exaggeration on Twitter and Facebook, as well as people posting doom and gloom maps showing how a thunderstorm near the coast of Africa will develop into a Category 5 storm and head right for the East Coast in the next 2 weeks. We’re not among that group, we give you facts and our best forecasts, without any hype. If there’s reason to worry, we’ll let you know with plenty of advance warning. It’s always best to prepare ahead of the season. Chances are, you won’t have anything to worry about, but in case you do, it’s always good to be prepared, as we’ve learned recently.

Could a tropical depression develop later this week in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico? It’s possible. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

There is something we’re keeping an eye on as hurricane season begins. Hurricane Agatha made landfall on the Pacific side of Mexico yesterday. It will dissipate today or tomorrow, but what’s left of it will drift towards the Yucatan Peninsula and then likely the southeastern Gulf of Mexico As it does so, conditions could be favorable for it to become a new tropical depression toward the end of the week. Whether it does or doesn’t develop, it will bring some heavy rain to parts of Florida, Cuba, and the Bahamas this weekend.

Nicholas Soaks Texas, More Systems Coming?

As we enter the climatological peak of Hurricane Season, the Atlantic is getting active again.

The Atlantic is getting active again. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

The main focus right now is Tropical Storm Nicholas, centered about 105 miles south of Port O’Connor, Texas, moving northward at 12 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph. A Hurricane Watch, Tropical Storm Warning, and Storm Surge Warning are all in effect for much of the Texas coastline. The good news is that Nicholas doesn’t have too long to strengthen, as landfall is likely along the Texas coastline this evening. The bad news is that it will be a prolific rain-maker for Texas (and Louisiana). Rainfall totals of 8-16 inches and locally heavier will produce widespread flooding across the region, including the Houston metropolitan area.

Very heavy rain is likely in southeastern Texas and Louisiana this week, Image provided by Weathermodels.com

While heavy rain and resultant flooding are the main threat with Nicholas, they aren’t the only threat. Tropical Storm force winds are already impacting the Texas coast, and will continue into tonight. With Nicholas expected to be close to hurricane strength at landfall, wind gusts may exceed 70 mph along the coast. Storm surge is the other concern. A surge of up to 5 feet is possible near and just to the right of where the center makes landfall. This will result in coastal flooding, in addition to the freshwater flooding that the heavy rain will produce.

Nicholas is the only active system in the Atlantic right now, but it’s not the only system that we’re keeping an eye on. A tropical wave that just moved off the coast of Africa is disorganized right now, but should move into an area of favorable conditions as it continues westward this week. It could become a tropical depression toward the latter half of the week, but it is still at least a week away from impacting any land areas, if it ever does. We’ve got plenty of time to watch this one as it makes its way westward.

Forecast tracks from the various members of the GFS Ensemble for the system that just moved off of Africa. Image provided by Weathernerds.org

A little closer to home, we need to keep our eyes on the Bahamas. Many of the forecast models are showing the potential for a cluster of storms near the Bahamas to interact with a tropical wave, and organize into a low pressure area later this week. Most of these models keep the system fairly weak, but it could become a tropical depression or even a weak tropical storm as it makes its way northward over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. At the very least, it should bring some rainfall to parts of the East Coast, but there’s a chance that the leftover moisture from Nicholas could be infused into the system, which would enhance the rainfall with the system. We’ll have to watch this system to see if it develops, and if so, how it develops, to get a better idea of what, if any, impact if will have on the East Coast.

Much of the East Coast is clear (aside from some smoke) today, but the cluster of storms near the Bahamas should be watched. Loop provided by NOAA.

Typhoon Chanthu continues to slowly weaken in the Western Pacific. After grazing Taiwan over the weekend it has moved northward, but has slowed down off the eastern coast of China, just east of Shanghai. It is expected to resume moving northeastward on Tuesday while continuing to weaken, passing near or just south of South Korea on Wednesday as a tropical storm. Gusty winds and heavy rain are expected, especially in southern portions of South Korea.

Forecast track for Typhoon Chanthu. Image provided by the Korean Meteorological Administration.

Finally, we’ll leave you with this. Former Hurricane Larry remains a powerful storm near Greenland at this time. Over the weekend, it dropped up to 4 feet of snow on the island, and more is falling today. It is already beginning to impact Iceland, where winds have gusted to 46 mph at Reykjavik today. We may be at the peak of hurricane season, but the fall and winter are not far away for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.

Former Hurricane Larry is burying Greenland with heavy snow and will impact Iceland over the next day or two. Loop provided by NOAA.

Tropical Storm Henri Live Blog

5:00 PM – We’re shutting down the live coverage for the day. Our Weekly Outlook will be published as usual early Monday morning, where we’ll have more info on the remains of Henri and the rainfall threat across eastern New England. Thank you for following along today!

4:55 PM – All coastal warnings have been discontinued. Tropical Storm henri now has 40 mph sustained winds and is centered about 20 miles southeast of Hartford, Connecticut, moving toward the west-northwest at 7 mph. Winds are still gusting to 30-40 mph in spots, mainly along the coast, but they should continue to diminish over the next few hours.

At this point, the forecast remains unchanged. What’s left of Henri will eventually stall out over western New England, then what’s left will head eastward across central New England on Monday. Heavy rain continues tonight from northern New Jersey and eastern New York into western New England, gradually shifting eastward on Monday. Rainfall totals of 5-10 inches are likely in parts of Connecticut, western Massachusetts and eastern New York, with some totals of up to 12 inches in northern New Jersey. Flooding will be spread spread across this area. On Monday, rainfall totals of up to 2 inches are possible from eastern Massachusetts into southern New Hampshire and southern Maine.

Radar loop of Tropical storm Henri. Loop provided by the College of DuPage.

3:15 PM – As Henri continues to push into Connecticut, if you’re in eastern Massachusetts you wouldn’t even know that there’s a tropical storm centered 100 miles to the west. Some breaks of sunshine are developing, and temperatures are in the 70s. It’s still quite breezy, in fact Blue Hill Observatory recently had a wind gust to 47 mph, but otherwise, it’s just a warm, humid, and breezy afternoon. The rain will move back into this region on Monday as what’s left of Henri heads eastward.

Satellite loop showing Henri making landfall in RI and then heading into CT while some breaks of sun develop in eastern MA. Loop provided by the College of DuPage.

2:00 PM – Henri continues to push inland and weaken. It is now centered over southeastern Connecticut and is moving toward the northwest at 9 mph. Maximum sustained winds are down to 50 mph, and additional weakening is expected for the rest of the day. Wind gusts of 30-40 mph are still being observed along the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but they should subside over the next few hours. Heavy rain continues to push across much of Connecticut and western Massachusetts. Flash Flood Warnings are in effect for a good portion of the region.

The heavy rain continues to push into Connecticut and western Massachusetts. Loop provided by Weathermodels.com

12:15 PM – Henri has officially made landfall close to Westerly, RI with maximum sustained winds near 60 mph. There have been several reports of wind gusts of 60-70 mph along the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts already. Winds are still gusting as high as 45-55 mph or more in places. We’ve passed the morning high tide, and with the center moving inland, the water levels should start to subside through the afternoon as the tide rolls out. There is still a concern for some coastal flooding during the high tide cycle this evening. Wind damage will still be a concern though the afternoon from southeastern Massachusetts across Rhode Island and into eastern Connecticut.

At this point, the concern shifts to heavy rain. Additional rainfall totals of 3-6 inches and locally heavier are likely over the next 24 hours across Connecticut, eastern New York, and western Massachusetts. As what’s left of the storm drifts eastward on Monday, some heavy rain is possible in parts of southern New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Concern now shifts to heavy rain across parts of the region. Image provided by WeatherBell.

11:30 AM – Looks like Henri is just about to make landfall along the southern Rhode Island coast. A wind gust to 70 mph was reported in Point Judith, RI, with an unofficial report of a gust to 76 mph on a hand-held anemometer in Point Judith.

Radar shows Henri’s center just about at the Rhode Island coast. Loop provided by WeatherTap.

11:00 AM – Tropical Storm Henri now has maximum sustained winds near 60 mph. After crossing Block Island, Henri is centered about 15 miles east of Montauk, NY, moving toward the north-northwest at 12 mph. Landfall is expected along the Rhode Island coast in the next few hours. Tropical Storm Warnings remain in effect from central Long Island to Cape Cod. A sustained wind of 51 mph with a gust to 69 mph was reported in Point Judith, RI within the past few minutes.

Radar shows Henri taking on the classic signature of a tropical system impacting New England with most of the rain to the left of the center. Loop provided by Weathermodels.com

Once inland, Henri will continue northwestward while rapidly weakening, stalling out overnight, before heading eastward on Monday. Heavy rain will continue across parts Connecticut, eastern New York, and western Massachusetts tonight, shifting into parts of southern Vermont, southern New Hampshire, northern Massachusetts and southern Maine on Monday. Flood Watches are in effect for parts of this region.

10:35 AM – The pressure has started dropping on Block Island again, and has now bottomed out at 989mb but is starting to rise a bit. Sustained winds of 44 mph have been recorded on the island recently. There are also an increasing number of wind damage reports showing up from the south coast of both Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Once Henri finally pulls away on Monday – hot and humid weather will return for a few days as the cleanup begins. High temperatures will be well into the 80s with some lower 90s possible.

Warm to hot and humid weather returns for Tuesday through Thursday. Image provided by weathermodels.com

10:10AM – The pressure appears to have bottomed out at 992mb on Block Island. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, a wind gust to 62 mph was reported in Westport. A coastal flood advisory has also been issued for the east-facing shoreline of the Bay State. A storm surge of 1-3 feet on top of the astronomical high tides will result in some flooding today, especially the high tide around midnight tonight, and in the usual places such as Scituate and Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester.

9:50 AM – The center of Henri is moving across Block Island. Sustained winds as high as 50 mph and a peak gust to 68 mph have been reported from the island.

Radar shows the center moving across Block Island. Loop provided by RadarScope

9:30 AM – A wind gust to 63 mph has been reported on Block Island. The initial outer band moved across Southern New England over the past few hours, producing up to 0.75″ of rain in a short period with some wind gusts to 20-30 mph. This pales in comparison to the band that moved across New York City last night that produced flooding across the Tri-State area.

9:00 AM – Tropical Storm Henri is now centered about 70 miles south of Providence. Maximum sustained winds have decrease to near 65 mph as Henri continues to weaken over colder waters. Water temperatures south of New England are 21-24C, well below the 27C threshold that tropical systems need to sustain themselves. Sustained winds of 47 mph and a wind gust to 59 mph have been reported on Block Island. The airport in Block Island is reporting North-Northeast winds at 33 mph with a gust to 55 mph. The automated station at the entrance to Buzzards Bay is reporting sustained winds of 47 mph with a gust to 58 mph. Note – the anemometer for this station is at 25 meters above the sea, while the standard anemometer height is 10 meters, so winds will read a bit stronger than at sea level.

8:00 AM – Tropical Storm Henri is centered about 75 miles south of Providence, Rhode Island, moving toward the north-northwest at 16 mph. Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 70 mph. Tropical Storm conditions are already spreading across southern New England and Long Island.

Henri’s bands are spreading across southern New England while the center shows up on radar to the south. Loop provided by the College of DuPage.

Wind gusts of 15-30 mph are already common across the region, with some gusts to 50 mph reported in southern Rhode Island. All Hurricane Warnings have been discontinued, but Tropical Storm Warnings remain in effect across the region.

Peak wind gusts expected across the region. Image provided by the National Weather Service office in Norton, MA

Henri should continue northward, likely making landfall in southern Rhode Island by early afternoon. Once inland, it will rapidly weaken, with heavy rain continuing west of the track, and gusty winds with occasional showers east of the track. There is also the threat for a few tornadoes east of the track. Along the coast, a storm surge of 3-6 feet is expected on top of astronomical high tides. Luckily, the high tides are this morning, with low tide in the middle of the afternoon, which will help offset the surge a little.

A storm surge of 3-5 feet is still expected along the coast. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

This will be only the 5th time since 1851 that New England/Long Island has had 2 landfalling storms in the same year, and only the 2nd time that both storms were tropical storm strength only:

1869
9/8 Category 3 Hurricane
10/4 Category 2 Hurricane

1954
8/31 Carol (Category 3)
9/11 Edna (Category 2)

1961
9/15 Unnamed Tropical Storm
9/26 Tropical Storm Esther

1985
9/24 Tropical Storm Henri
9/27 Hurricane Gloria (Category 2)

2021
7/9 Tropical Storm Elsa
8/22 Tropical Storm Henri

Counting Elsa, 37 storms have made landfall in Long Island or New England as a tropical storm or stronger – an average of one every 4.6 years. The longest we’ve ever gone without a direct hit from a storm of tropical storm strength or stronger is 11 years, between 1897 and 1908, and again between 1923 and 1934. Elsa’s landfall earlier this year ended a 10-year drought without a landfalling storm.