Following a brief pause in the record-setting 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, forecasters say as many as two storms could be spinning at once next week as atmospheric conditions become conducive for development. One storm may take shape a few hundred miles from Bermuda, while another system slowly organizes near Central America.
A total of 25 systems have reached tropical storm strength or greater so far in the Atlantic Ocean this season, with the most recent storm being Hurricane Delta.
With a couple of storms possibly in the offing in the coming days, this season is rapidly closing in on the record of 28 named storms set in 2005. That year was also the only other year that the Greek alphabet had to be utilized.
The next systems to reach tropical storm strength, or have maximum sustained winds of 39 mph or greater, would take on the names Epsilon and Zeta.
A zone east-southeast of Bermuda is likely to be the breeding ground of the next tropical system, according to forecasters.
This satellite image from Saturday morning, Oct. 17, 2020, shows the swirl of showers and thunderstorms that forecasters are monitoring for tropical development in the near future. Bermuda is located in the far top left of the image. (CIRA/RAMMB)
“Showers and thunderstorms continue to better organize around an elongated area of low pressure several hundred miles east-southeast of Bermuda,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller said.
“This organizing trend is expected to continue into Sunday, and a subtropical depression or storm is likely to form by then,” Miller added.
A subtropical storm has both tropical and non-tropical characteristics. Even if the system is first classified as subtropical, it may become fully tropical over the warm waters of the Atlantic.
This feature could meander at times to the south and west next week, before eventually being steered toward the north. A cold front that may be located near or along the East coast of the United States late next week should help deter the storm from bringing direct impacts to the region.
“Whether that eventual northward track brings the storm west or east of Bermuda is yet to be known. As a result, all interests in Bermuda should pay close attention to the progress of this storm,” Miller said.
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Farther south and west, AccuWeather meteorologists are actively monitoring an area of the Caribbean Sea where a weather system called a gyre may form.
“A gyre is a slowly spinning area of low pressure that generates areas of showers and thunderstorms. A gyre itself does not typically evolve into a tropical system, but disturbances that are drawn into the unsettled setup can develop into tropical depressions, tropical storms and even hurricanes,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
“Confidence continues to grow for an area of low pressure to develop by the end of the week over the western portion of the Caribbean Sea,” Miller said.
Any potential storm is likely to be slow moving at first before it gets picked up by a non-tropical system over the eastern U.S. and gets steered toward the northeast.
“Given the warm waters and potential for low wind shear, which are favorable conditions for tropical development, in the Caribbean, there is some risk for significant strengthening of this feature before it moves to the north,” Sosnowski said.
Projections on the exact track of this system would be a moot point this far in advance. However, AccuWeather meteorologists are pondering a couple scenarios that may be in play, and are advising interests in the area to pay close attention.
“When and where the interaction with the non-tropical system over the eastern U.S. occurs will ultimately determine if the storm makes it into the eastern Gulf of Mexico or is steered to the south and east of Florida over the Bahamas and then out to sea,” Miller said.
Residents and interests in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, the Bahamas and the U.S. East Coast should pay attention to this system.
Beyond next week, warm waters over much of the Atlantic basin and the Caribbean are likely to generate additional systems during November and even December. As a result, meteorologists believe there is a high chance that the season could tie or break the record number of tropical storms of 28 set in 2005.
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