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Tropical Tracker: All aboard the African wave train

More activity to follow Nana and Omar

Development chances over the next five days.
Development chances over the next five days.

ORLANDO, Fla.- – When it comes to named storms this hurricane season, it’s looking more and more likely that we will exhaust the alphabet and have to use the greek alphabet to finish out the season for just the second time on record.

Currently, 2005 is the only year the greek alphabet had to be used to name storms. A total of 28 storms were named that year.

The next name of the 2020 season would be Paulette
The next name of the 2020 season would be Paulette

After Nana and Omar were quickly named earlier in the week, Paulette will be the next named storm. For perspective, through Labor Day last year, we were on the “D” storm, Dorian. After Labor Day 2019, we had 14 more storms before the season came to a close. Let’s hope we don’t come close to that.

The ACE, or accumulated cyclone energy, to date is 44.7. At this point through the 2005 season, the ACE was a whopping 103.8. What has been going on this season has been significant, but the season still isn’t close to the benchmark season of 2005 in terms of intensity. The average ACE to date is 36.4.

Another shot at Fujiwhara?

Remember all of the Fujiwhara talk from Laura and Marco in the Gulf? That ended up not happening, but two waves off Africa could dance with one another in the coming days, depending on how they develop.

‘Tis the season

We are now, of course, heading into peak season and an uptick of storm activity is to be expected. This time around, however, development of the tropical waves emerging off Africa will be helped by that MJO we have been speaking of.

Hurricane development is very quiet through June and July and typically ramps up as August begins. The peak of hurricane season occurs September 10.
Hurricane development is very quiet through June and July and typically ramps up as August begins. The peak of hurricane season occurs September 10.

State of the Atlantic

As we watch the potential for several waves to eject from Africa over the next week or so, the question becomes will land be impacted.

Initially, the Bermuda High will steer storms west from Africa. When storms strengthen early, there is more of an opportunity for them to be swung back out to sea. If a storm is weaker on its trip toward the Lesser Antilles, it has a better chance to get close to the U.S.

The answer is hazy at the moment, but there are a couple of things we are watching.

Dry air remains present north of the main development region
Dry air remains present north of the main development region

Dry air residing just north of the Atlantic’s main development region will likely promote slow organization for most of the waves rolling off Africa at this time. Typically, Saharan dust is a non-factor at this stage in the game, but there is still some hanging out near the continent.

The jet stream is going to get abnormally wavy post Labor Day. This will not only lead to an outbreak of unseasonably cool air in the nation’s midsection, but will have huge implications for steering currents when it comes to tropical systems.

Getting into the second week of September, an upper high looks to build across the North Atlantic. This is a pattern you don’t want to see while there are active storms as it would favor storms continuing west toward the U.S. rather than safely out-to-sea if they get close enough to the islands. How this pattern evolves from September 10-20 will need to be watched closely, in combination with the likely flurry of storms coming.

Now more than ever it is important to be mindful of what’s on the internet as the steering current is going to be complex, fueled by two pacific typhoons merging with the jet stream. You heard that right, two pacific typhoons will be responsible for the chill coming in the middle of the country, which will have a ripple effect in determining the strength of steering currents in the Atlantic.

All of this remains to be seen, of course, but with the climatological peak of hurricane season around the corner and the convectively enhanced phase of the MJO in prime position, storms are a given. The question remains, “Where will they be headed?”


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